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

Check out the video and share with friends, colleagues, on facebook, email list-servs, etc:

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.

According to the directive above, Immigration Enforcement cannot enter or approach women’s shelters, drop-ins, child protection services, counseling services, community health and legal clinics, neighborhood centres with violence against women programs, rape crisis centers, second stage housing and transitional support programs, and other agencies that provide violence against women supports and programs.

Over the years, we have seen women and transpeople denied refugee status and deported to death. We have seen migrant women forced to work in exploitative and vulnerable conditions, denied workplace protections. For too long undocumented women, particularly survivors of violence, have been unable to access support in the GTA for fear of being arrested, detained and deported. Far too many times, undocumented women have been targeted and arrested in places they gathered for support and strength.

This policy is part of the process of creating safety, justice and dignity for undocumented communities, particularly women, transpeople and children surviving and fighting back against abuse and violence. This is part of the campaign to make all social services in the GTA accessible to undocumented women, particularly survivors of violence.

To ensure that Immigration Enforcement complies with their directive, please paste the directive below prominently at the entrances to your agency. If Immigration Enforcement appears, remind them of their obligation to respect this directive and ask them to leave. We are encouraging all social services in the city to implement a full ‘Access Without Fear’ policy. Download the draft policy of the directive here.

No One Is Illegal-Toronto will be tracking the effectiveness of this directive. Please email if CBSA shows up at your service to report how the interaction went.

While this directive has improved access to services for undocumented women, we wish to reiterate that our work and organizing has never been about gaining concessions from Immigration Enforcement. Our struggle is about justice and dignity for migrants, irrespective of immigration status – and that struggle continues. We will continue to fight for a stay on all deportations, particularly for women, children and trans-people who are survivors of violence and a full and inclusive regularization program.

On March 8th, 2010, members of the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign declared “It is our responsibility to ensure that women, transpeople and children in our communities do not live in daily fear of detention and deportation, especially when seeking support”. We stand by our declaration and remind ourselves and our communities that though policies may come and go, real protection and strength comes from within us.

We will continue to organize for a city that is safe and just for all its residents, irrespective of immigration status. As we We commit again today to continue organizing until racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist and exclusionary immigration enforcement cannot function in our city.


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