On Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at least 21 of our family members and friends were on their way to work when they were racially profiled, forcefully IDd, and arrested. They now face possibly endless detention and separation from their families simply for trying to put food on the table. Sign the petition to oppose racial profiling and anti-immigrant raids!
The Toronto Star and CBC have reported that OPP and Ministry of Transportation officers along with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) used the excuse of a "vehicle safety blitz," to stop cars full of immigrants in the Keele and Finch area, near Highway 401. All the passengers in the car were forced to show identification papers.
"I told her I am not driving, why are you asking for my ID?" says Andres, one of the men from Mexico who was arrested and is currently in detention. "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".
OPP seems to have targeted cars, and ID’d people primarily who appear to be Latin American and East Asian. The Toronto Star reports that OPP joined Border Enforcement in also ID’ing and arresting immigrants entering Coffee Time, Country Style and Tim Hortons in the area. This is disgusting and shameful racial profiling, and cannot be allowed to continue.
"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," adds Andres, speaking through a translator. "We were asking ourselves, why are they stopping us, we’re working, we’re not doing anything wrong."
A person should not be punished for working to feed their family. We do not expect anything better from the Harper government but we are gravely disappointed and angry that Ontario officials are racially profiling immigrants and supporting Harper's anti-immigrant agenda.
"I am very angry," says Alyssia whose husband was also arrested. "I am very angry because we have been struggling in working hard here so we can have a future for our children. I am angry because I have a child with autism born here, he has a right to be here, has the right to receive the treatment that Canada can offer him."
Lawyer Guidy Mamann told the CBC, "In the guise of looking for safety issues … they [Ontario officials] are abusing that power and using it for whatever they feel like. Safety blitzes are to determine whether or not the vehicles are safe and roadworthy, not to determine what your immigration status is. They are not connected."
Not only are Ontario officials unjustly racially profiling our neighbours, they are supporting the trampling of immigrants rights by Border Enforcement.
Andres adds, "I had to sign a lot of papers from the time I got detained [by Border Enforcement] - about 6 documents. They didn't translate them, just explained the motive for the signatures. I don't remember what I signed. They just kept telling me to sign, I was so nervous I signed".
Under the Harper Conservatives’ anti-migrant agenda, we have seen a rise in precarious temporary labour migration, tighter rules for family reunification, a decrease in successful refugee claims and over 80 000 people detained in jails simply because they were born outside of Canada. Migrants are a vital part of Canada’s agricultural, hospitality, domestic work, construction and other industries, and vital parts of our communities, yet the Conservative Government continues to make status harder to obtain, and easier to lose. By colluding with CBSA, the OPP and the Wynne government are doing Harper’s dirty work.
We demand answers: Why is the OPP helping to enforce federal immigration laws? Why hasn’t the Liberal government been transparent about arrangements between the OPP and CBSA? Why is the Wynne government supporting Harper’s anti-migrant agenda? And we demand action: end collusion between CBSA and the OPP.
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