by Syed Hussan, Faria Kamal, and Chris Ramsaroop
Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)
Nearly 200 outraged community and labour activists rattled the fences of Rexdale Immigration Detention Centre on April 5, demanding the release of over 100 undocumented workers arrested during unprecedented immigration raids across southwestern Ontario.
Chanting ‘No One Is Illegal! Stop deporting people,’ ‘We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us’ and ’Justice for migrant workers,’ teachers, lawyers and organizers from OSSTF D12, Parkdale Legal Community Services, Mujeres Al Frente, the Sikh Activist Network, the Good Jobs Coalition, CUPE, UFCW, CAW, OPSEU and many others joined family members and friends on Sunday morning. Organized by No One is Illegal-Toronto, Migrante Ontario and Justicia for Migrant Workers, the spirited action was in response to three separate but coordinated attacks against undocumented communities.
This past week, Canada Border Services Agency and South Simcoe Police arrested hundreds of people, detaining over 100 workers. At the same time, in Leamington and Windsor, Ontario, dozens of undocumented people were picked up on their way to work, in their homes and in public spaces. Homes were also raided on the Danforth where absentee workers possessions were confiscated.
''For Justicia, these are our friends and our families that are on the inside," says Chris Ramsaroop from Justicia for Migrant Workers. "For Justicia this isn't just political, it’s personal. Our activists are impacted by these workplace raids."
“Racialized people have been targeted once more while working to pay for the basics while corrupt employers go free. And to this we say No!" he thundered.
No charges have been laid against the employer, Cericola Farms. These raids come the same day the migrant worker community celebrated a victory against recruitment agencies charging large “placement" fees to workers even if no legal work was found. Many workers were forced to work under precarious immigration status in order to secure an income.
As supporters encircled the premises of the detention center, the detainees came to the windows, applauding, cheering, pounding at the glass and waving fists. The action saw both the imprisoned and their community allies demanding an immediate end to immigration raids, detentions and deportations.