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Council of Canadians endorses Transportation not Deportation campaign

The Council of Canadians has endorsed the Transportation not Deportation campaign.

Our support for this initiative stems from the death of Lucia Jimenez. In December 2013, Transit Police boarded a SkyTrain public transit car in Vancouver. They stopped Jimenez, a 42-year-old hotel worker and undocumented migrant from Mexico, because she couldn’t provide her proof of payment. The Transit Police questioned her and then transferred her to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Three weeks later, while in detention at the Vancouver International Airport awaiting deportation, she hung herself. She died eight days later in a Vancouver hospital.

Harsha Walia, Daniel Tseghay, Sarah St. John, Omar Chu and Daisy Chen write, “Every day in the Greater Vancouver area, at various SkyTrain stations and bus stops, Transit Police check fares and issue tickets. And every day, some of the people who are stopped are reported to the CBSA.”

They highlight, “No one has a legal obligation to provide physical proof of identification to Transit Police — generally one should be able to simply tell the police one’s name and address. Yet Transit Police have the discretionary power to determine when they’re ‘satisfied’ they have established a person’s identity. It’s unclear what kinds of identification are currently accepted by Transit Police and Translink Security, or whether Transit Police have any written policy on acceptable identification.”

The Transportation not Deportation campaign says, “We believe our public transit system should not be a border checkpoint. Translink and Transit Police should not ask for or retain immigration status information, and should they learn of someone’s immigration status they should not share that information with Canada Border Services Agency.”

We agree.

In February 2014, the Council of Canadians celebrated Hamilton city council unanimously voting to adopt a motion affirming the right of undocumented residents to access to municipal services. This followed a similar vote by Toronto city council in February 2013. The Toronto Star has reported that the commitment behind these ‘sanctuary city’ initiatives is to ensure that “non-status residents [have] access to city services without fear of being turned over to border enforcement officials.” Those municipal services include shelters, housing and food banks, and should include public transit as well.

The Council of Canadians recognizes that historically unequal economic relations, resource exploitation, ‘free trade’ agreements – like the North American Free Trade Agreement – and increasingly climate change create the conditions which contribute to the migration of people, and that migrants face unjust treatment and danger crossing militarized borders as they flee these circumstances. They face further discrimination, racism and hardship as undocumented residents in ‘First World’ countries like Canada that often bear responsibility for the conditions which forced their migration from their home countries. In an era with no restrictions on the flow of global capital, we question the restrictions on the movement and freedom of people.

Transportation not Deportation has also been endorsed by Check Your Head, Coalition of South Asian Women Against Violence, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, Vancouver Status of Women and other groups. To sign a petition on this issue, please click here.

Further reading
The inquest into the death of Lucia Vega Jimenez (August 2014 blog)
WIN! Hamilton to become Canada’s second ‘sanctuary city (February 2014 campaign blog by Michael Butler)
Council of Canadians takes action in support of justice for migrants (December 2013 blog)