Activist group on alert after migrant arrests near Leamington
Published Thursday, May 3, 2018 6:12PM EDT
Activist group Justice For Migrant Workers is pushing back against the arrests of several migrant workers this week.
Canada Border Services Agency has confirmed the arrest of several people on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Leamington area for possible Immigration and Refugee Protection Act violations.
Chris Ramsaroop is calling this week’s immigration raid a type of scare tactic.
“This is concerning because this continues a trend where workers who are non-status are being criminalized for the mere fact of working.”
Ramsaroop says Justice For Migrant Workers is working through legal options for those affected and looking to pressure the federal government to back off mass immigration raids. He says 18 people were detained in the action this week and feels they’re victim of the immigration system.
“It’s about relaxing these rules. It’s to ensure workers have access to permanent residency and taking away the indentured conditions that exist on our farms across Canada.
Windsor immigration and family law lawyer Maria Fernandes says there is a pilot program looking to give migrant workers permanent residency status.
“I think I’ve seen three or four people take advantage of the fact that the program is out there. I don’t think that they know that there’s an opportunity for them to get into this program.”
Fernandes recommends those interested in the program contact her office or another lawyer for more information.
She stresses migrant worker deportations and these kinds of mass arrests are not the norm.
“By far and large the majority of the employers and the majority of the employees are very careful to ensure that they maintain their visas and proper dates and times because there are penalties.”
As far as Ramsaroop is concerned, migrant workers are working scared.
“There’s a pattern of fear,” says Ramsaroop. “There’s a pattern of vulnerability that exists because of the precarious immigration status that migrant workers face here in Canada.”
Authorities have yet to update the status of those arrested and hasn’t said where the arrests took place.
The Mexican Consulate in Leamington has confirmed two Mexican nationals are set to be deported after working without proper permits.