Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Community Delegation Accompanies Sri Lankan Man Facing Deportation; Targets Air Canada

A group of about 15 people representing No One is Illegal, a local migrant support coalition accompanied Dammika Kumara Tissawalangumndiyanselage (Kuma), a Sri Lankan man and 5-year resident of Dartmouth, as he entered the Halifax International Airport to face a deportation order slated for this morning, May 19th at 6:30am. The group led a 2 hour disturbance of airport affairs to publicize the abhorrently racist nature of deportations.

HALIFAX – A community delegation accompanied Dammika Kumara Tissawalangumndiyanselage (Kuma), a Sri Lankan man and 5-year resident of Dartmouth, as he entered the Halifax International Airport to face a deportation order slated for this morning, May 19th at 6:30am.

Kuma, who is currently married to a Canadian citizen, has been living and working in Halifax for five years. He was originally scheduled for deportation on May 11th, however the order was delayed due to the fact that the only international airport in the country has been closed as a result air attacks by the Tamil Tigers. His deportation represents a disturbing and repressive act on the part of immigration officials, due to the dangerous situation to which he and his wife would be subjected in Sri Lanka.

A group of about 15 people representing No One is Illegal, a local migrant support coalition, distributed pamphlets about Kuma to airport patrons while chanting 'Air Canada, shame shame, deportation is your game - get off it, you're ruining lives for profit'; a reference made to the fact Air Canada took the CIC contract to deport Dammika. Airport security and RCMP officials responded to the rowdy group but, in the end, the protestors were not forced to leave.

"We will continue to press the Canadian government to readmit this young man to Canada on a spousal sponsorship application," said a No One is Illegal member, "however, we believe that all Canadians who believe in a non-racist society must stand up and demand action from the Canadian Minister of Immigration, CBSA head Stockwell Day, and from local Canadian Immigration officials. Deportations are completely ."

Kuma's Canadian wife, Kimberly Charron, had applied to be his sponsor in his permanent residence application, based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. Regardless of the pending nature of this legal claim, his deportation date to Sri Lanka was set for May 11th, 2007. Kuma lost his refugee claim in 2005 and was notified on April 14th of this year that he lost his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) application. His deportation date was later extended to May 19th due to the closure of Sri Lanka's only international airport.

The Canadian government's unwillingness to consider issuing a stay of Kuma's deportation order has placed an immense emotional strain on Kim and her family. Kuma and Kimberly will be forced apart due to the financial strain caused by the repeated rescheduling of Kuma's departure flight by Immigration officials. Despite the dangerous nature of the situation in Sri Lanka due to the current civil war, Kimberly had initially planned to depart with Kuma. Instead, she will remain in Canada for the next few months due to threats to her safety, as well as financial constraints.

No One is Illegal has issues a statement that can be read below:

We decry the actions of the offices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, as well as the Canadian Border Services Agency who, in their callous disregard for human lives, are prepared to place both Kumara and Kimberly in immediate danger. At present, Sri Lanka is perhaps the most devastated war zone in South East Asia. The intensity of the conflict has forced 300,000 people to flee their homes, and has claimed the lives of 4000 people since the beginning of 2006 according to Amnesty International. This alone should be enough to convince the Canadian government to stay Kumara’s deportation order, and even to discontinue all deportations to Sri Lanka. Yet the Canadian government’s travel warning for Canadian citizens, as well as the repeated closure of Sri Lanka’s only international airport due to repeated bombing attacks, has not dissuaded this government in the slightest. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has shown nothing but contempt for the safety of Kumara, and for Kimberly.

As members of No One Is Illegal, a local migrant support coalition, we know that Kuma and Kim are being separated because in Canada, we effectively have a category of second-class citizens. Immigrants, refugees, and all people living without status in this country face daily harassment, threats, exploitation, and systemic discrimination. Far too many are maintained in legally precarious states of limbo, sometimes waiting years while the heartless bureaucracy of CIC decides their future. It is more than clear that the estimated 500,000 people living without status in Canada have far fewer rights than do Canadian citizens. As Kumara discovered, while attempting to make sense of the legalistic maze of Canadian Immigration regulations, there are almost no opportunities for appeal of decisions made by the Immigration and Refugee board. Many IRB judges have little or no background in dealing with matters of immigration and are simply political appointees.

Kumara, like so many other immigrants in Halifax and elsewhere across Canada, has been an active, hard-working, kind, and incredibly honest member of the community. He has worked consistently at a variety of jobs since arriving in this city, and has become a member of a Canadian family. By this definition, Kumara is exactly the sort of person that the Federal government has claimed that it wants to come to more rural parts of the country such as Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. What more could they ask for? Yet, Kumara will be forcibly evicted from this community tomorrow morning. He, like so many other non-status people in Canada, has been treated like a criminal despite committing no crime; Over the past month and a half, Kuma has expressed an understandable fear that his phone calls are being monitored, his steps surveilled, and that he could be imprisoned at any time. Upon return to his home country, Kuma will face possible detainment by the Sri Lanka government by virtue of his being an asylum-seeker. Despite this, the Canadian government still maintains some xenophobic notion that he does not face “enough” danger in his home country to warrant staying his deportation.

We, as members of the Kuma Support Campaign and No One is Illegal (Halifax) will continue to press the Canadian government to readmit this young man to Canada on a spousal sponsorship application. However, we believe that all Canadians who believe in a non-racist society must stand up and demand action from the Canadian Minister of Immigration, Diane Finley, CBSA head Stockwell Day, and from local Canadian Immigration officials. CIC and Canadian Border Services have done extremely little to take responsibility for the safety of this resident of our community.

Corporate News Coverage on Dammika can be found here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The fight against deportations: The new sanctuary movement

May 18, 2007 by Lee Sustar

A NEW faith-based movement to “awaken the moral imagination
of the country” hopes to provide sanctuary for undocumented
immigrants whose deportation would break up families.

Calling themselves the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM)--a nod
to the 1980s effort to assist refugees from Central America
fleeing the carnage of U.S.-sponsored wars--churches and
religious activist groups held press conferences around the
U.S. May 9 to announce plans “to protect immigrant workers
and families from unjust deportation” by giving shelter
and material aid to the undocumented.

The initiative comes in the wake of efforts by immigrant rights
activists to pressure local governments for sanctuary city policies
of non-cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

On May 8, Watsonville, Calif., became the latest city to declare
itself an immigrant sanctuary. In other cities like Chicago,
San Francisco and Oakland, activists have pressed city officials
to reaffirm existing policies of refusing to cooperate with
federal immigration officials.

A key inspiration for the NSM organizers is the struggle of
Elvira Arellano, a Mexican immigrant who last year made
international headlines for publicly defying a deportation
order that would separate her from her U.S.-born son,
8-year-old Saúl.

Arellano last year moved into Adalberto United Methodist
Church in Chicago, and religious leaders and activists from
around the city came to express their support. International
media covered the story, and solidarity messages poured into
Adalberto from around the world.

“We’re all inspired by the example of Adalberto United
Methodist Church, of Elivra and her family, and the courage
of that congregation,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of
the Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, a key organizer in
the NSM.

Since Arellano took her stand, the threat of detentions and
deportations that break up immigrant families has become more
urgent as the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) steps ups its raids.

The detention of a nursing mother after a raid on a factory in
New Bedford, Mass., in March, put the issue of immigrant family
unity back into the national media spotlight. By holding
coordinated press conferences, the NSM aims to keep it there.

“Families are being broken by a broken immigration system,” Rev.
Alexia Salvatierra, of the Los Angeles-based Clergy and Laity United For
Economic Justice, said in a statement. “Under current policies,
detention and deportation are ripping apart parents from children,
husbands from wives and sisters from brothers. Through our
sanctuaries, we can help change the laws to create policies that
are effective and humane.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE CALL to join the movement was made by groups affiliated with
a range of Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, and
Muslim and Sikh organizations.

To participate, individual places of worship must pledge to
host immigrant families in which a family member is facing an
order of deportation. According to a document posted to the NSM
Web site, eligible immigrant families are those with adults with
a “good work record,” a “viable case under current law,” and
“American citizen children.”

Bobo points out that NSM participants are free to support other
undocumented immigrants who don’t meet all the criteria. The
framework was agreed upon by a broad coalition; others are
prepared to go further in providing assistance to the
undocumented, she said.

And while the movement hasn’t taken a formal position on
proposed immigration reform legislation, most are critical of
current proposals. Interfaith Worker Justice, she said, opposes
the enforcement provisions being discussed in Congress--“and
the proposals on the table would establish a very large guest-worker
program, which have been proven to be detrimental to workers.”

While the outcome of the legislative debate is uncertain, ICE
raids are sure to escalate, and the NSM is preparing for the
consequences--an increase in attempted deportations.

The NSM, based on a brief from the Center for Constitutional
Rights, takes the position that its sanctuary efforts don’t
violate the law, since they are being offered publicly and,
as in the case of Elvira Arellano’s vigil, there will be no
effort to hide the immigrants’ whereabouts from ICE officials.

While Bobo doesn’t believe laws will be broken, “ICE may take a
different point of view,” she said.

Once faith communities agree to host a family, they will be
asked to provide material aid in a variety of ways, starting
with “legal triage”--help, including financial assistance,
in the most urgent cases.

Families will be hosted for up to three months, and hosts
agree to provide assistance in various ways--including meals
and transportation to and from work or school. In addition,
the faith communities agree to directly support the NSM itself
through fundraising or donations of food, clothing and
other goods.

NSM participants are also asked to support immigrant workers
against the racist backlash. “The immigration reform agenda
is just inseparable from worker justice at this moment in our
history,” Bobo said. “The absolute worst abuse of workers that
we see around the country is the abuse of immigrant workers,
because they have no path to citizenship, and there’s
no strong protection of workers’ rights for immigrant workers.”

An NSM statement spells out the operational conclusion:
“Despite society’s ongoing desire for the services of day
laborers and immigrant domestics, the climate of racism and
harassment has reached a fever pitch. Faith communities are
called to offer support through: being publicly present at
existing day labor pick-up sites as a peaceful presence in the
face of racist and hateful demonstrators; serving as an
alternative labor/employer match site; and/or being advocates
for worker issues.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THIS PLEDGE to defy the federal government and right-wing
groups recalls the original sanctuary movement of the 1980s,
when a coalition of some 500 churches and religious organizations
helped refugees from Central America fleeing from death squads
and counterrevolutionary forces aligned with the U.S. government.

That movement--in which activists helped refugees cross the
border and live underground in the U.S.--was the target of
repeated high-profile prosecutions by federal authorities. All
failed but one: the conviction of the movement’s co-founder,
Rev. John Fife of Tucson, Ariz., along with five others,
including a Catholic priest and a nun, who were
convicted on felony charges and given five years’ probation.

In a 1986 trial of sanctuary activists in Arizona, it emerged
that two sanctuary volunteers were actually undercover agents
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service--the forerunner
of ICE--who drove a family of five refugees from El Salvador
on a trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque, N.M., as they carried
out a public speaking tour for the movement. This was part of
the INS’s Operation Sojourner, an effort to infiltrate the

But sanctuary activists had expected as much. “We intend to
make it as widely known as possible that we are in violation
of the law, an immoral and illegal law,” Fife told the Tucson
Citizen in 1982.

Today, Fife, now retired as a pastor, is still active in
support of immigrants. He’s a founder of the group No More
Deaths, which provides water, food and assistance to undocumented
immigrants crossing the border, often in defiance of the Border
Patrol and right-wing vigilantes like the Minutemen.

Two student activists in the group, Shanti Sellz and Daniel
Strauss, were arrested in 2005 for taking three undocumented
immigrants to receive medical care, although charges were
eventually dropped.

“These efforts are not only humanitarian aid efforts, they’re
communities of resistance to the kind of violations of human
rights the government policy is involved in,” Fife said in a
recent interview with Amy Goodman on the Democracy Now! radio/TV

“And active resistance involves direct aid to the victims.
It also involves speaking out and trying to get...border
enforcement policy changed so that we’re no longer involved
in massive violations of human rights and all that death and

The Interfaith Committee’s Bobo said that she expects the NSM’s
organizing to dovetail with efforts to implement sanctuary city
policies, pointing to the organizing work to get the Washington,
D.C., City Council to pass legislation strengthening the city’s

The sanctuary movement, moreover, provides a counterweight to
the spate of anti-immigration legislation at the state and local
level--most recently, the law passed in a referendum in the Dallas
suburb of Farmers Branch, which seeks to prevent landlords from
renting housing to undocumented immigrants.

By going national and highlighting the sanctuary work already
taking place at the local level, the movement aims to alter
the terms of debate over immigration, its leaders said. “Through
our sanctuaries,” said Rev.Salvatierra of Los Angeles, “we can
help change the laws to create policies that are effective and

Bill has politics written all over it

The Sudbury Star
Editorial - Friday, May 18, 2007 @ 09:00

It is hard to understand why the federal Conservative government, having been in power for so little time, has decided the plight of exotic dancers needs to be pushed to the top of the national agenda.

The industry in Canada, apparently, has a shortage of workers, so immigrants are needed, but very few are actually entering the country for that purpose.

It is not possible to make an impassioned argument that a shortage of workers in the exotic dancing industry would somehow be damaging to the nation's economic health, but it is also hard to buy into Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley's bill aimed at barring foreign exotic dancers from entering Canada.

Bill C-57 would give immigration officers at foreign missions the power to refuse temporary workers thought to be at risk of exploitation.

It has the look of political opportunism, with the idea of sustaining the spectre of Liberal scandal.

Finley says the new legislation was merely a response to the previous Liberal government's scandal in which former immigration minister Judy Sgro fast-tracked immigration papers of a Romanian stripper who worked on her election campaign.

Said Finley: "The good old days of Liberal Stripper-gate will be a thing of the past."

She is also trying to play the moral card, which, on the surface, is hard to argue with.

Said Finley: "What we're trying to do here is protect vulnerable foreign workers, ones that could easily be exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse."

In 2005, after the rules were tightened up by the Liberals, 10 people were admitted into the country with temporary work permits for the purpose of working as exotic dancers.

And now the issue has somehow made it onto the national agenda.

While we cannot question Finley's stated and worthwhile intention of protecting immigrant women from being forced into prostitution, how does this bill address any problems with the exotic dancing industry?

Said Annie Temple, who operates an advocacy website for strippers: "Keeping foreign exotic dancers out of Canada will not address the issue of exploitation. If the Conservative government is truly concerned about exploitation of exotic dancers, then they should focus on ensuring health and safety standards exist at strip clubs." Fair enough.

If there are problems with the industry, address them. Simply barring foreign strippers, while leaving whatever problems exist to Canadian workers cannot be a pragmatic solution.

Finley will likely continue to paint this legislation as humanitarian gesture, but she has not made a convincing argument for the need for a new law, which will take up the time of parliamentary committees.

Bill C-57 is too half-hearted to be taken seriously and it is not an effective use of a valuable government legislative agenda.

Le Code du travail s'applique aux ouvriers agricoles mexicains

Le vendredi 18 mai 2007
André Noël

La Presse

Le Code du travail - qui prévoit le droit à la syndicalisation - s'applique aux milliers de Mexicains qui viennent travailler chaque année dans les fermes du Québec, ont soutenu les représentantes du procureur général du Québec devant la Commission des relations du travail, hier. Une position que contestent les employeurs.

Quelque 150 travailleurs saisonniers mexicains de trois entreprises agricoles tentent depuis le mois d'août de se syndiquer aux Travailleurs unis de l'alimentation et du commerce (TUAC). Les entrepreneurs et l'association patronale Ferme s'opposent à leur requête, faisant valoir qu'ils ne sont pas assujettis au Code du travail.

Me Dominique Launay, procureure de deux des trois entreprises, a dit que le Code ne s'applique pas parce que les conditions de travail des ouvriers mexicains sont fixées par une entente entre les gouvernements du Canada et du Mexique. Un protocole a été signé en 1974 et est reconduit année après année. Environ 4500 travailleurs migrants viendront au Québec cet été.

Les salaires et les conditions de travail sont établis lors de discussions entre les représentants des gouvernements et des employeurs. Les ouvriers n'y participent pas. Or, plusieurs d'entre eux sont insatisfaits et réclament de négocier eux-mêmes leurs contrats.

Le procureur général du Québec ne se prononce pas sur les requêtes en accréditation syndicale, qui visent les fermes Hotte Van Wieden, Hydroserre et Léguminière Y.C. Mais, contrairement aux fermiers, il estime qu'ils ont le droit de présenter de telles requêtes.

«Le protocole d'entente entre le gouvernement du Canada et le Mexique est tout simplement un arrangement administratif ayant pour but de faciliter les procédures d'admission des travailleurs agricoles saisonniers étrangers», a dit Me Esther Plante, qui représentait le procureur général du Québec avec Me Dominique Legault. «Le Code du travail s'applique.»

Le Code du travail prévoit que la Commission des relations du travail doit rendre une décision 60 jours après le dépôt d'une requête en accréditation. Or, les requêtes ont été déposées il y a plus de neuf mois. Mario Délisle, coordonnateur aux TUAC, a dit qu'il avait rarement vu un dossier traîner autant en longueur. La prochaine audition a été fixée au 14 juin. La décision n'est pas attendue avant longtemps.

«Les employeurs essaient de gagner du temps par tous les moyens, a dit M. Délisle. Ils veulent démoraliser les travailleurs. Avec le temps, ils espèrent que les Mexicains qui ont signé les cartes d'adhésion syndicale auront quitté leurs entreprises. Un des employeurs a congédié un travailleur pour activités syndicales. Un geste tout à fait illégal. Nous avons dû nous battre pour l'obliger à le réintégrer.
L'enjeu est important.»

Opposition raps Tories over proposed crackdown on strippers

Globe and Mail

May 17, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Conservative government has introduced legislation to crack down on foreign strippers entering the country as temporary workers, even though figures show the practice has almost stopped.

The move yesterday drew swift rebukes from opposition parties and sex workers' advocates, who accused the Conservatives of pandering to their morally traditional voter base by making much fanfare about a relatively redundant bill.

The proposed legislation gives immigration officers at foreign missions the discretionary power to refuse temporary workers deemed at risk of exploitation.

But documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show the previous Liberal government had already issued directives to embassies to make it harder for foreign strippers to obtain temporary work permits. As a result, the number of new permits issued to foreign exotic dancers fell to fewer than 10 in 2005 from 67 in 2004, according to government statistics.

Still, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley portrayed her government as a defender of exploited women and vowed her bill will further limit the number of foreign strippers allowed in the country.

"What we're trying to do here is protect vulnerable foreign workers, ones that could easily be exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse," Ms. Finley said yesterday.

Since the 1990s, immigration authorities granted work permits to more than 600 foreign strippers, mostly from Eastern Europe, to help fill labour shortages at Canadian strip bars.

The new bill provided the Tories with an occasion to drag back on the public radar the so-called Liberal strippergate scandal.

In 2004, then-immigration-minister Judy Sgro cancelled a blanket authorization for work permits to strippers after it was revealed that her office granted a visa extension to a Romanian stripper who had worked on her election campaign.

But foreign exotic dancers kept trickling into Canada under more stringent conditions. New directives sent to all foreign missions in 2005 by Human Resources and Social Development Canada instructed applicants to present a valid work contract and required officials to verify that the employer was legitimate.

A spokeswoman for Stella, a Montreal organization that caters to sex workers, said her group has received no complaints from foreign strippers. "This Conservative government has been looking to reduce what they see as an immoral industry," Jenn Clamen said.

Opposition critics also took aim at the proposed bill. "I think we have the safeguards in place," Liberal immigration critic Omar Alghabra said. "This is just an attempt to change the channel, to grab some headlines."

Ottawa veut interdire les effeuilleuses étrangères

La Presse
Le mercredi 16 mai 2007
Alexander Panetta

Le gouvernement conservateur a présenté à Ottawa, mercredi, un projet de loi visant à interdire aux effeuilleuses étrangères de travailler au pays.

La ministre de la Citoyenneté et de l'Immigration, Diane Finley, a déposé le projet de loi C-57. Il prévoit que le permis de travail soit refusé aux étrangers s'ils risquent de faire l'objet de traitements humiliants et dégradants, dont l'exploitation sexuelle.

Le projet de loi permettrait aux agents d'immigration de refuser d'autoriser un étranger à exercer un emploi au Canada en vertu de l'intérêt public, tel qu'établi par la ministre.

Mme Finlay a indiqué que les amendements prévus à la Loi sur l'immigration et la protection des réfugiés concernent différents types d'emploi, mais elle a parlé en particulier des danseuses nues.

Un organisme de défense des droits des strip-teaseuses a dénoncé le projet de loi, le présentant comme une mesure visant à interdire l'entrée au pays de demandeurs d'un visa légitimes tout en faisant peu de choses pour protéger les femmes contre le commerce illégal du sexe.

La ministre Finlay a quant à elle présenté la mesure des conservateurs comme une réaction à l'affaire de la danseuse nue ayant plongé le précédent gouvernement fédéral, libéral, dans l'embarras.

«Le précédent gouvernement libéral accordait une dispense générale aux effeuilleuses étrangères afin qu'elles travaillent au Canada», a déclaré Mme Finlay à la Chambre des communes.

«(C'était) en dépit des mises en garde selon lesquelles elles étaient susceptibles d'être contraintes à la prostitution et à d'autres formes d'exploitation (...) Grâce à (cette législation), la bonne vieille époque du «Strippergate» sera chose du passé», a-t-elle ajouté.

Judy Sgro, ancienne ministre libéral de l'Immigration, a démissionné après avoir été pointée du doigt pour être intervenue afin de favoriser l'installation au pays d'une danseuse nue ayant participé à sa campagne électorale.

En 2004, l'ancien gouvernement a émis quelque 600 permis de travail temporaires à l'intention de danseuses nues étrangères en dépit des mises en gardes lancées au sujet des femmes contraintes à se prostituer.

Case of the phony weddings

Toronto Sun
Wed, May 16, 2007
After seeing 42 albums with same wedding guests, feds keep closer eye on Indian immigrants


Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials have discovered 42 wedding albums submitted with 42 different citizenship applications in which the guests in the photos were all the same.

All the weddings had supposedly taken place at the same Wedding Palace in Chandigarh in India's Punjab region.

"You'd have to believe that 42 weddings had the same guests," says Mendel Green, president of Green and Spiegel, who has been practising immigration law for 42 years.

Seeing albums with all the same wedding guests and the same wedding hall is something with which his firm is familiar."Yes, people have brought fake photos to us," says Ravi Jain, a partner with the firm. "We have seen people posing in the photos. We have seen same wedding halls, same guests over and over again."

Jain says some people are so bold to admit they have a "paper marriage."

"They do so largely to get a visa because they can't qualify as skilled workers and the only way they can qualify is under the family class," he says.

Liberal MP Roy Cullen, who has 29,000 South Asians in his Etobicoke North riding, says many Indo-Canadians in his riding have expressed concerns over this "abuse" of the system.

"They are telling me it is becoming like an epidemic and it is being seriously abused and so sometime back I spoke with former immigration minister Monte Solberg. I suggested to him -- and I am soon going to write to his successor Diane Finley -- that immigration rules could be amended to issue spousal visas on a probation of say three to five years and if at the end of this period the couple is still in marital relationship, they should be given permanent landed status."

In addition to people getting illegal immigration status with these phoney marriages, Jain says Canadian immigration officers have also started "over-scrutinizing all family class applications, genuine marriages."

"I have one case involving a pregnant woman and they are refusing that case," Jain says. "This woman in Canada was divorced before. She went to India to marry a guy who was never married before. She got pregnant by him.

"Immigration has refused a family class visa to the Indian person, arguing an Indian, who has never been married before, would never marry a divorced woman."

Immigration officials believe that this Indian man must have paid the Canadian woman $10,000 to $15,000 just to get the Canadian visa.

"That's the theory of the Canadian visa officer who refuses to give him the visa, which is ridiculous," Jain says.

"It's just awful and doesn't send a good message to the Indian community in Canada that people are using women in the community basically like the prostitutes."

Toronto's Ramesh Maharaj married an Indian woman, Sudha Arora.

They were both divorced and, according to their own beliefs, part of their Hindu religious marriage vows, didn't perform Saptapadi (taking seven steps round the sacred fire) a second time. It was not termed a legal marriage.

Stephen Green, also an immigration attorney at Green and Spiegel, dealt with one case in which the Indo-Canadian woman was slightly physically handicapped.

She married an Indian man with no physical limitations. That too was termed a phony marriage: "How can an Indian man ever marry a physically handicapped woman?"

These are two extremes.

"Yes, absolutely phony marriages are taking place largely to get visa and those cases should be investigated and refused," Jain says. "We know Immigration is aware of this."

Statistics show about 60,000 Canadians marry overseas each year and file international spousal sponsorships. About 15% are rejected by Canada Citizenship and Immigration. In the case of India, the rate is 23%.

No-fly lists provide false sense of security TheStar.com - opinion - No-fly lists provide false sense of security

May 15, 2007

How can someone be too guilty to fly and yet be too innocent to be charged on the ground, asks Faisal Kutty

"Nothing personal sir, but your packages are not allowed on passenger airlines," said a United Parcel Service customer service agent, sitting in an American call centre. She was explaining to me that my package could not be delivered on an "early a.m." basis from Toronto to Peterborough.

I was interrogating the agent about why this was so, since I had been using UPS without any problems since starting my practice in 1996. Initially reluctant, the agent eventually confessed that when my account number was entered into their system, the "Flight Guardian" software flashed a red signal.

"Sir," she said, "after 9/11 we can only pick up packages if the green light is given."

The next day I called the UPS head office and inquired about the situation. The supervisor apologized and informed me that I could use the expedited service within Canada, but that I did not have the requisite clearance to use this service to the U.S.

We will never know how many Canadians have been so specially designated on more than a dozen lists maintained by the United States. The proliferation of these watch lists around the globe has been a troubling development in the "war on terror."

Now the Canadian government may complicate the situation even more by introducing its own no-fly list, which will inevitably be shaped by, and be available to, the Americans and perhaps even others.

As we consider the need to improve our intelligence and law enforcement systems, we must have an open and informed dialogue about what measures truly make us safer while ensuring that our fundamental values and liberties are not sacrificed.

The proper forum for such a debate is our legislature.

Bypassing this necessary debate in introducing the cleverly named "Passenger protect program" is irresponsible and cavalier, particularly given what we learned from the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who was rendered to Syria for torture while in transit through New York.

This charge is not being made lightly, as the information- sharing protocols and mechanisms, which were criticized by Justice Dennis O'Connor in the Arar inquiry findings, have not been improved or addressed – yet Ottawa is pushing ahead with its list.

Though the government has claimed national security privilege in refusing to confirm or deny this, the Smart Border Declaration and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, as well as intelligence agreements, make it certain that the list will cross-fertilize with U.S., and perhaps even other nations' lists.

Making lengthy watch lists based on subjective and political criteria and then giving the power to add and remove names to agencies that have a vested interest in the national security agenda is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house.

Such lists – they will inevitably fill up quickly with "false positives," political dissidents, those whom our friends and neighbours subjectively view as threats – have not yet, as far as the public is aware, caught any terrorists in the U.S.

Indeed, common sense should make us wonder how someone can be too guilty to fly and yet be too innocent to be charged. Should those who pose a threat to our security be kept off our flights, but be free to roam our streets?

To make matters worse, real terrorists may not even be placed on the list for fear of tipping them off; no kidding, this is the official U.S. position.

How can such a list provide anything more than a false sense of security while leaving it rife for blacklisting innocent people as well as racial and religious profiling?

The no-fly list will threaten many basic rights and leave little practical recourse.

Yes, in theory there is the office of reconsideration. But the inability to know whether you are on the list until boarding time, the potential use of secret evidence as well as the use of unreliable and illegally obtained information by foreign sources, will make it near impossible to get off the list in many cases.

This is based on a close review of the U.S. experience as well as the plight of individuals who are already encountering difficulties in flying within Canada without Ottawa even having an official list of our own yet.

The extraterritorial application of U.S. watch lists is already impacting us; how will we fare once we have our own list interacting with, confirming and/or merging with other lists?

Hasty and ill-considered national security initiatives, which are essentially aimed at managing public perceptions more than they are in really addressing legitimate and manageable security concerns, will not move us forward in the fight to disrupt terrorism.

It will only complicate the lives of innocent Canadians and increase the opportunity for religious and racial profiling.

No matter how vigorously it is denied, racial/religious profiling is too often the reality for a growing number among Canada's Muslim and Arab communities and certainly in the national security context.

The experience of many Canadians who have already been caught up in the web of watch lists, in areas other than flying – be it for opening bank accounts, wiring money, sending courier packages, etc. – does not bode well for the no-fly list.

And my package? The one that was flagged by "Flight Guardian?"

Well, I drove to a depot close to my office and sent it off – without using an account number and by paying cash.

So much for the security offered by a watch list.

Faisal Kutty, a Toronto lawyer and doctoral candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, is also vice-chair and counsel to the Canadian Council on American Relations.

U.S. looks north on immigration

Canada's points system suddenly appeals to Americans as model for overhaul
May 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Tim Harper

WASHINGTON–It was less than a year ago that Republican elders were railing against Canada's "liberal" immigration policy and talking of building a wall along the northern border.

Now, the U.S. Senate could be on the verge of a historic overhaul of American immigration policy, one forged by Republicans extolling the virtues of the system north of the border.

If there is a breakthrough on an issue that has bedevilled successive Congresses it will be because this one will end a four-decade-old system that gives preference to family unification and brings in a points-based merit system in effect for years in Canada.

"It was amazing to me that they talked last year about a comprehensive immigration plan and never even considered what they're doing in Canada, which is clearly a merit-based system," Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, a proponent of such a plan, told CNN last week.

Sessions said the Canadian experience is one followed by developed nations around the world because "it evaluates applicants based on who can best enjoy the Canadian experience.

"It only makes sense to me."

For a consensus to take hold, majority Democrats will have to make clear that family members will still have the ability to join their kin here, or risk a backlash from the key American Latino voter block.

Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and key negotiator on a proposed overhaul, said his party has accepted the point system, but a so-called skilled immigrant would get a further edge if he or she already has family in the United States.

Plaudits for a major pillar in the Canadian immigration system here comes as a bit of a jolt.

In the wake of last June's terror arrests in Toronto, Peter King of New York, then the Republican chair of the Homeland Security committee, attributed Canada's "large Al Qaeda presence" to its lax immigration rules.

Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a Republican presidential hopeful, has long been a champion of fencing in the U.S. on both its southern and northern borders.

But the points-based system has its critics and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it clear that the time is tight to forge a last-ditch immigration compromise and he wants something brought for debate quickly, perhaps as early as today.

Bill Hing, an immigration expert and professor of law at the University of California, said Congress would be making a mistake if it brought in more merit-based immigrants at the expense of family unification immigrants. "There is no evidence that those family members are not helping us financially or socially," he said. "The U.S. does need more people with high skills, but those making the argument are implying that family members who arrive in this country do not work and that is not true."

Indeed, Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, the ranking member of the House judiciary subcommittee on immigration, said last week he favours the point system because if the U.S. opens its borders to family members and illegals who are then granted amnesty, "then you've handed your immigration policy to foreign lawbreakers. That's just utterly stupid."

Under the Canadian point system, prospective immigrants are graded on six criteria, including education, their facility in the two official languages, work experience, age, arranged employment and "adaptability."

In Canada, 55 per cent of immigrants are admitted under the skilled program, with 30 per cent admitted under the family class. The remainder are refugees or other categories. The U.S. system of family-based preference for immigrants has been in place since 1965.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Grief, and Mystery, Over Immigrant’s Killing

Published: May 14, 2007
Librado Romero/The New York Times

The Mount Kisco laundry where Rene Javier Perez, seen in a photograph on the flier, called 911 on April 28. Three Mount Kisco police officers responded to the call.

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Fourteen years ago, when Rene Javier Perez decided to leave his impoverished hometown in eastern Guatemala in search of a more prosperous life in the United States, his parents mortgaged the plot of land where they lived to raise $3,000 he needed for a smuggler to lead him across the border.

Librado Romero/The New York Times

About an hour after the officers met Mr. Perez, he was found, beaten, along a dirt road in Bedford.

The plan, which Mr. Perez shared with a few of his relatives, was to move to this placid village in Westchester County, where thousands of his countrymen had settled before him, and find work so that he could help his parents pay off the debt.

But jobs were hard to come by and the pay was not as good as he had envisioned, his mother, Merced Perez, recalled. So the money he was sending home, steady at first, turned into a trickle and eventually stopped. Unable to keep up with the loan payments, his parents lost their modest slice of land.

Now they have lost their son, and his death on April 29 — somewhere between a coin laundry in Mount Kisco and the side of a desolate dirt road in nearby Bedford — has become a source of sadness in Apantes, the Guatemalan town where he was born, and a mystery involving two police departments in his adopted Westchester County.

To read more click HERE

Terror suspect cannot be deported

An Algerian terror suspect cannot be deported after a judge ruled he is not a threat to national security.

Moloud Sihali, previously cleared of taking part in an alleged poison plot, had faced return to his home country.

Mouloud Sihali, pictured left
Mouloud Sihali was acquitted of any involvement in a ricin plot

He said he could face torture if sent back under a controversial deal between the UK and Algerian governments.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission said ministers could appeal their decision - but also ruled three other Algerians should be deported.

Mr Sihali, 30, was cleared in 2005 by a jury at the Old Bailey of taking part in an alleged terrorist conspiracy to spread the poison ricin in London.

He was later placed under restrictive bail conditions amounting to a form of house arrest while he mounted legal challenges to the Home Office's attempts to deport him.

In a judgement at SIAC, Mr Justice Mitting ruled Mr Sihali was not a threat to national security and should not be deported under a special arrangement between the UK and Algeria for terrorist suspects.

Mr Justice Mitting relaxed the bail conditions while giving the Home Office 10 days to appeal.

Three other Algerians lost appeals against deportation. The first man, known only as U, is already appealing. Lawyers for the other men, W and Z, are considering whether there are separate grounds for an appeal.

Previously, Mr Sihali had told the BBC he had no connections to terrorism and had unfairly been labelled "suspicious".

"I do not know what will happen to me if I go back to Algeria," he said. "Will I be prosecuted? Will I be persecuted? That is what I fear."

Home Office disappointed

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said he welcomed the court's approval for the deportation of three of the four men.

23 listed
Seven have lost appeals
Three withdrawn appeals
Three won appeals
10 awaiting hearings or decisions
Note: Figures as of 14 May 2007

"The court has once again upheld our view that it is safe to deport such individuals to Algeria and accepted that diplomatic assurances from Algeria are valid and can be relied upon to ensure a person who threatens the UK can be deported safely," he said.

"We are disappointed, however, that the SIAC has determined that Sihali does not pose a threat to our national security.

"The government's highest priority is to protect public.

We will be examining the determination closely to establish whether we have an avenue to appeal to the Court of Appeal and, if so, we will seek to overturn the decision."

Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a campaign group, welcomed the ruling on Mr Sihali, saying SIAC was upholding due process in the UK.

"We cannot combat terrorism if we lose our basic values," said Mr Shadjareh.

The government has a "memorandum of understanding" on returning terrorism suspects to Libya, Syria and Jordan. A different diplomatic agreement is in place with Algeria covering the treatment of returnees.

In April, Siac blocked the deportation of terrorism suspects to Libya on human rights grounds, a major blow to the policy.

Critics of the government's policy say none of the deals guarantee the safety of those returned.


Migrants land on Canary Islands

Migrants land on Canary Islands
Migrants in the Canaries on Friday 11 May 2007
At least 800 migrants have arrived in the Canaries since Thursday
Hundreds of African migrants landed on Spain's Canary Islands on Monday, bringing to at least 800 the number who have landed there since Thursday.

The Spanish Interior Ministry says the immigrants, mostly young men from Gambia, Guinea and Senegal, arrived in five boats.

Last year, more than 30,000 illegal immigrants landed on the islands.

In recent months, the number making the journey from Africa has fallen sharply compared to the same time last year.

Lack of patrols

The recent increase in the numbers making it to the Canaries has been attributed to calm seas, warm weather and the fact the European Union's external borders agency Frontex is not patrolling between the islands and Africa's west coast.

Two of the boats were carrying 103 people each, Spanish interior ministry spokeswoman Candelaria Cedallos told the Associated Press.

The migrants included 30 children, she said.

Passengers on one of the vessels told the AFP news agency they had travelled for four or five days and had not eaten anything for the last two days.


Video: Travailleurs agricoles

Pour voire le video cliquez ICI

CN Rail sues Ontario Mohawk protesters


CN Rail has launched a lawsuit against Mohawk protesters who blocked a major Ontario rail corridor for more than a day last month, disrupting freight and passenger traffic.

The land dispute protest near Deseronto that began in the early hours of April 20 disrupted freight between Toronto and Montreal. The disruption blocked the transport of freight worth more than $100 million, said spokesman Mark Hallman.

'We've sort of looked at this as being a warning … that they're quite willing to make our miserable lives more miserable.'— Protester Shawn Brant

"We have launched an action to recover the costs associated with the blockade," Hallman confirmed Tuesday. "This represents the first time that CN has served suit for damages arising from a First Nations blockade of its tracks."

CN estimated that about 22 freight trains travel the Toronto-Montreal route every day, but did not specify how much it is asking for in damages.

CN seeks ban on future blockades

Hallman said that as part of its action, the company is seeking an extension of a court order that ended the blockade. That extension would ban future blockades.

Shawn Brant, the main spokesman for the protesters from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on Lake Ontario's Bay of Quinte, is named in the CN lawsuit, which also includes a blockade that people from the reserve staged last year on the same rail line.

"We've sort of looked at this as being a warning to other First Nations communities across the country as well as ourselves that they're quite willing to make our miserable lives more miserable," he said.

Lawsuit names band council

The lawsuit also names the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory band council and several other people from their community.

Chief R. Donald Maracle said the council had nothing to do with the blockade and will ask CN lawyers to remove it from the lawsuit.

The rail blockade disrupted both freight and Via Rail passenger service along the Toronto-Ottawa and Toronto-Montreal rail corridors for about 30 hours.

The protest, which ended when CN served the protesters with a court injunction, was part of an ongoing protest that members have been maintaining for months over privately owned land near Deseronto that the Tyendinaga Mohawks claim is theirs.

Brant faces a number of charges related to the blockade, including mischief. He turned himself in to police on May 3, but has been released on bail.

The band council is in talks with a federally appointed negotiator regarding the land claim, but the protesters say those are proceeding too slowly.

Railways and Colonialism


CBC reports that CN Rail is jumping on the police bandwagon and targeting Shawn Brant and the rest of the residents of the Tyendinaga Territory of the Mohawk Nation: they are launching civil suits against Brant, against the Tyendinaga band council, and against others involved in the recent blockade of their rail line that was mounted in response to the foot-dragging by the Canadian state in settling a local land claim, part of the long-term settler state strategy of consolidating past theft by obstructing justice around land issues at every turn. Though rail blockades have been sporadically used by strategically placed First Nations in the past, this is the first time that CN has taken such a step.

As Brant is quoted as saying, "We've sort of looked at this as being a warning to other First Nations communities across the country as well as ourselves that they're quite willing to make our miserable lives more miserable." This is especially in light of that a national day of action has been called for June 29, and "many First Nations are already planning [blockades], with talk of a co-ordinated targeting of key infrastructure, from rails to roads," according to this column

There are a number of things worth noting about this. For one thing, it is yet another indicator of the fact that it both capital and the state are integral to colonialism. This seems to me to be kind of an obvious point, but I mention it because on more than one occasion I have heard ways of talking about colonial oppression that foreground the role of the settler state but have little critical to say about the class relations or relations of production with which it is integrated. This is one small sample of overlap between the drive of a segment of private capital to safeguard its profit and the drive of the nation state to eradicate anything it sees as competition for legitimacy and sovereignty within the boundaries it claims.

The second is the historical resonance of the entity choosing to contribute to the enforcement of colonial relations being a railroad, because railroads were central to the original colonization of much of Canada. The particular area where Tyendinaga is located was, as far as I understand it, initially colonized in an era before rail transportation played much of a role, but it was vital in the colonial transformation of the huge stretch of the country between northwestern Ontario and the already-existing small British colonies in the lower mainland of what is now British Columbia and on Vancouver Island. I actually haven't read much of this history recently or in any critical form, but anyone who has taken Grade 10 history in Ontario can probably remember the big deal made of railroads in the unit covering Canada in the late 19th century. A little strategic reframing can reveal a lot even from partially forgotten remnants of the completely uncritical mythology that is high school history. It was the promise of a rail connection that brought the colony of British Columbia into the Canadian confederation. The railroad cemented Canadian/British claims to the territory in the face of dreams of Manifest Destiny in Washington. After the first Riel Rebellion, in which Metis people with Cree allies rose up against the encroaching settler state, there was an additional imperative to be able to get troops out there easily. And of course it was railroads that transported land-hungry settlers -- a population carefully and deliberately kept almost entirely white by Canadian immigration policy -- that were integral to the state's plan to make their colonial control of the land a practical fact by transforming it from "the land" as understood by its indigenous inhabitants and into "property" as understood in the context of the common law and capitalist social relations. As a consequence, large sums of government money were used to subsidize private corporations in building and running several transcontinental railroads. I forget the details, but I know that it resulted in far more rail capacity than anyone had any use for, and one government fell because of a corruption scandal related to the process.

All of which is to say that the railroads were a BIG DEAL in that era because of their importance, both material and symbolic, in early Canadian state formation -- state formation that of course was entirely dependent on land theft and cultural genocide.

Incidentally, from what I understand the companies that eventually formed CN were not directly involved in creating the original transcontinental lines -- that was mostly Canadian Pacific -- but at least one element was central to creating the system of branch lines used to reinforce colonial control of the province of Manitoba and was heavily subsidized by the provincial government.

It is also worth understanding the history that lies underneath the naming of the band council in the lawsuit. Band council government was created by the racist federal legislation called the Indian Act and more or less forced on most First Nations, sometimes at the point of a gun, sometimes through deception, and sometimes through other forms of bullying. I don't know the specific history in Tyendinaga, but it seems clear that naming the band council (which had nothing to do with the blockade) in the lawsuit is a way of fostering the old colonial strategy of divide and rule -- push the segment of the colonized people over which you have some leverage to act as your enforcers against the segment of the population over which you have little and who are therefore more militant.

The final thing that occurs to me is to wonder about why now was chosen by CN to take this step. The obvious answer is the one given in the quotation above, as a warning against others planning similar actions on the upcoming day of action or at other times. But I also wonder if this is part of a larger tactical shift by the settler state, as part of the push by Harper and Co. to shift things from straight neoliberalism to a more blatantly Bush-like model. The state has been perfectly willing to use uniformed people with guns against indigenous resistance in the last few decades, but by and large it has preferred, when possible, to put a liberal face on cooptation and delay and keep it all as invisible as possible. One good example of this shift is the residential schools issue. The Liberal strategy seemed to be to hemm and haw and concede it was an awful situation but do the absolute minimum materially and symbolically to continue seeming progressive to a poorly-informed white-dominated liberal base. The Conservative Minister of Indian Affairs, Jim Prentice, seems to have opted for a reversion to a denial of the problem so blatant that it would be laughable were it not for its pro-genocide implcations.

He said,

I've said quite clearly that the residential school chapter of our history is one that was a difficult chapter. Many things happened that we need to close the door on as part of Canadian history, but fundamentally, the underlying objective had been to try and provide an education to aboriginal children and I think the circumstances are completely different from Maher Arar or also from the Chinese head tax. [emphasis added]

A senior official from the Department of Indian Affairs in the early twentieth century was much more honest.

The department's purpose was clear enough: as enunciated by [long-time deputy superintendent-general Duncan Campbell] Scott, it was 'to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department.' In other words, as one observer put it, the extinction of Indians as Indians. [Olive Patricia Dickason, Canada's First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, Third Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 308]

That was specifically with reference to a short-lived power to deliberately remove "Indian status" from indigenous people at the Minister's discretion, but its matter-of-factness is telling of the department's historical orientation more broadly.

In any case...it makes me wonder if perhaps there is some backroom coordination going on. The shifts under Harper are certainly not fundamental, as the goals of the settler state have never really wavered when it comes to indigenous people. but it would not surprise me to learn at some point down the road that CN got a go-ahead or even a nudge on this point, given that the Canadian settler state seems to be resuffling its tactical options with open repression closer to the top of the deck.

This is just off the top of my own head, and does not come from an active solidarity group let alone from the people most directly affected, so act with caution. But I can't help but think that perhaps a good practical approach to solidarity for people living in cities that have CN corporate offices -- their national headquarters is in Montreal, and unfortunatley their northern Ontario office appears to be in Saul Ste. Marie rather than Sudbury -- might be to pay them a collective visit of some sort. They should hear from people, including and perhaps especially settlers, that they should drop the civil suits and that they are pressuring the wrong party around the blockades. If they want to avoid any future risk of lost revenue they should pressure their buddies on Parliament Hill to act quickly and decisively to create a just settlement of land claims in Tyendinaga and across the nation.

Personally, I think direct action is called for, but for those of us at a distance, letters can be sent to:

President's Office
CN Headquarters
935 de La Gauchetière Street West
Montreal, Quebec
H3B 2M9


Carol Sobel 310 393-3055
Cyntha Anderson-Barker 213 381-3246
Jorge Gonzalez 213 670-0063
The National Lawyers Guild, along with attorneys from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday on behalf of the community groups who organized a May Day immigrants rights rally at MacArthur Park in the city’s heavily Latino immigrant community.
The event was disrupted by the Los Angeles Police Department when riot-gear clad officers swept through the park without warning and ordered everyone leave the park. The suit seeks changes in how the Los Angeles Police Department responds to demonstrations, as well as damages for all of the peaceful participants in the rally who were beaten and shot by the police and chased from the park on May 1, 2007.
According to the lawsuit, the police broke up the demonstration without justification. A dispersal order was given from a helicopter hovering several blocks away from the park. The announcement was largely drowned out by the noise of the helicopter and was given only in English, despite the fact that the MacArthur Park community is largely Spanish-speaking immigrants.
The declaration of an unlawful assembly was not made before the police began shooting people with less lethal munitions and beating anyone in their path with batons and there was no warning and an opportunity to leave before people were shot. Many individuals were shot in the back as they attempted to flee the police.
"This was nothing short of a police riot," said Carol Sobel, President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and one of the attorneys on the class action. "The police shot munitions at anyone in the park. It was sheer luck that more people were not injured and that no child was seriously harmed by the lawless action of the LAPD on May 1."
The original police estimates, provided in the days immediately following May 1, were that 10 people were injured and 50 to 100 "agitators" prompted the police response. Since then, the number of injured reported by the police has risen to 24 and the number of "agitators" dropped to approximately 30. Lawyers for the class action estimate that they have received reports from dozens of individuals injured that day as they were chased from the park, including reports of broken bones, concussions, and other contusions.
Several individuals suffered injuries from head strikes with batons, a serious categorically lethal use of force according to the LAPD's own training. To date, videos of the rally and police action have failed to substantiate the police claims of provocation for the massive and brutal police response.
Since the early 1990s, the City has paid out over $9,000,000 in damages for police abuse at demonstrations, including approximately $5,000,000 for the police actions at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.
Organizational Plaintiffs
MIWON - Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network
CHIRLA - Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights Los Angeles
KIWA - Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
IDEPSCA - Institute of Popular Education of Southern California
GWC - Garment Workers Center
PWC - Philipino Workers Center
Individual plaintiffs include:
Kevin Breslin, who was present at the May Day rally as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. He was struck at least 5 times on his legs by at least two officers and then hit in the chest.
Luis Galvez tried to help people escape from the park and, as he did so, was hit on the head, neck and back multiple times, and knocked unconscious by a baton strike from behind.
Jorge Lopez was with friends eating snacks when he heard yelling and shouting and saw people running. He was shot with a rubber bullet in the chest. When he tried to retrieve the ball that hit him, he was shot two more times in the leg.
Leopoldo Ortiz is a 76-year-old veteran who was walking in the park when the police attack began. One officer hit him multiple times in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He fell to the ground and was kicked two times in the backside.

- 30 -

Canadians lining up to join spy agency

CSIS goes on hiring blitz, recruits 100 new officers from pool of 14,000

May 12, 2007 04:30 AM - http://www.thestar.com/News/article/213181

OTTAWA–Maybe it was the shock of 9/11. Maybe it is the reality of Canadians dying in the "war on terror" or charges against so-called "home-grown" terrorists.

Or maybe it's stronger recruiting efforts by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), including outreach in ethnic communities.

CSIS director Jim Judd outside the Ottawa headquarters in 2005.

Whatever the motivation, more and more Canadians are lining up to become spies, the agency says.

Last year, more than 14,500 people submitted applications for jobs in CSIS.

Of that number, CSIS hired 100 as "intelligence officers" – or spies.

"Is 100 all you needed or all you were able to find?" Senator Tommy Banks recently asked CSIS director Jim Judd.

"It was actually more than we needed," Judd told the standing committee on national defence and security.

CSIS is on a hiring blitz. The agency's staffing levels dropped because of federal budget cuts in the mid-'90s, but it has received millions of dollars in funding for new recruits since 9/11.

"We are building a bit of flexibility into our capacity," said Judd. "I expect we will hire another 100 this year, and I expect the level of applications will be that high as well."

He conceded the level of interest "is surprising."

Equally surprising is the calibre of applicants. Judd said two-thirds of the hires have two or more university degrees, and half have languages other than English and French.

But don't ask which languages. That's top secret, although a spokesperson for CSIS allowed that they include "Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, etc."

Spokesperson Barbara Campion used the oft-cited statistic that among 2,600 CSIS employees, 85 languages are spoken.

Senator Mobina Jaffer said CSIS' relations with the Muslim and Arab-speaking communities in Canada are better than in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when many, including her, accused the spy agency of racially profiling terror suspects.

Judd said CSIS has invested "an enormous amount of time and effort" with various ethnic communities in Canada.

Not only has it allayed some of the community leaders' concerns, but Judd says those same leaders actively helped CSIS hire people, "which we have been doing at a much greater rate over the last number of years."

Now, 45 per cent of "intelligence officers" at CSIS are women, and over the past two fiscal years, 55 per cent of new hires for that stream of work have been female, Campion said.

Judd said many of the new recruits have work experience, "including overseas or military. ... The issue for us now is training and development and getting them to an operational level."

After six months of basic training, Judd said new recruits are generally on probation for about five years – the time it takes for an intelligence officer to reach the point of being "deployable."

But with the influx of strong candidates, CSIS is considering deploying people sooner.

"Some of my colleagues would say that the recruits that have come into the organization over the last five or six years are smarter than ever before," said Judd, who became director in November 2004.

"Some of them have more experience, life experience, if you will, other than academic credentials that may make them more readily deployable than was perhaps the case in the past."

CSIS, created nearly 23 years ago to take over national security intelligence-gathering duties from the RCMP, first drew heavily on the ranks of the RCMP's national security service. Two decades on, less than 10 per cent of its workforce is former RCMP members.

Overall, its attrition rate is lower than the federal public service at large, but it has recently seen several retirements in its top ranks, including its deputy director of operations, assistant director of operations, the assistant director of corporate and the assistant director of finance.

Most have been replaced by people coming up within the service, but CSIS has also gone outside to augment its senior ranks, Judd said.

A request to interview Judd about the new faces at CSIS was refused.

But Campion said the changing face of the service helps CSIS three ways: It makes it easier to get "assistance from the Canadian population," helps the organization "avoid group-think" and sends a message "of inclusiveness to all current employees."

U.S. deserters plan Supreme Court bid

Toronto Star
2 soldiers who fled to Canada denied refugee status
May 08, 2007 04:30 AM
Leslie Ferenc
Staff Reporter

Two U.S. Army deserters who lost a Federal Court of Appeal hearing in their bid to stay in Canada haven't lost hope and will seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, their lawyer says.

"This is not a setback that will dissuade us," solicitor Jeffry House said of last week's appeal court ruling.

Still, his clients Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey "are very disappointed," the court didn't conclude they should have refugee status.

The court had been asked whether a soldier should be forced to take part in an illegal war, House noted. The former soldiers have argued that the Iraq war is illegal because it violates international law and that conscientious objectors should not be punished.

In an interview, House said a previous Federal Court of Appeal overturned an Immigration and Refugee Board decision granting refugee status to a deserter from Yemen who had testified he was ready to fight for his country but not for Saddam Hussein when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The deadline to file for a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is June 30. Unless they're successful, Hinzman and Hughey will be forced to return to the U.S. where they will be court-martialled and could face up to two years in jail for desertion.

Hinzman and Hughey, who both live in Toronto, could not be reached for comment.

Hinzman served in Afghanistan. He was refused conscientious objector status and came to Canada with his wife and child after learning his unit was being deployed to Iraq. He appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in December 2004. Before the hearing started, however, the board ruled the legality or illegality of the war could not be used as an admissible argument. Separate immigration panels determined neither Hinzman nor Hughey were conscientious objectors and were not eligible for refugee status.

Hughey also arrived in 2004 and left his unit before it shipped out to Iraq.

Provocative UN refugee ads target the affluent

Globe and Mail

May 9, 2007

The woman speaks in a robotic monotone. She has a message for a group of residents in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood.

"We regret to inform you that your homes will be ransacked, doused in gasoline and torched to the ground," she says. "All other Toronto residents, please ignore this announcement."

The radio spot is one of several new, made-in-Canada ads for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Designed to shock young urban professionals into opening their minds and, hopefully, their wallets, the ads were conceived and produced pro bono by a Toronto firm, and are set to be unveiled to millions of people in a dozen countries. It's the first time the normally conservative UN refugee arm has put some edge in its fundraising appeals, with a global campaign that's making some Canadian radio stations nervous.

"We expect a strong reaction," said UNHCR Canada senior external affairs officer Nanda Na Champassak, "both positive and negative."

Besides the radio ad, the agency is also posting mock eviction notices in public places, and has a TV spot showing a snail being ripped out of its shell -- an analogy to what's happening to the 20 million refugees around the world. The ads are for donations and urge people to go the UNHCR's web site to read more information about refugees.

"We're definitely not targeting the converted," Ms. Na Champassak said. "We're targeting those neighbourhoods where we feel there are people who are university graduates, who know about the refugee problem in passing but can't relate."

The entire campaign would never have gotten off the ground had an advertising executive not gotten a UNHCR mailer two years ago.

Patrick Scissons, vice-president and associate creative director at BBDO Toronto, decided to contact UNHCR and ask if it needed help creating a more effective advertising campaign. With the refugee agency's tight budget, an ad blitz was virtually out of the question. But Mr. Scissons made the agency an offer it couldn't refuse -- everyone working on the ads, from the designers to the woman whose monotone voice tells High Park residents their homes are about to burn down, worked pro bono.

"Charitable causes getting attention is always quite a challenge," Mr. Scissons said. "More so for a cause like refugee awareness, when it's happening a million miles away."
So BBDO focused on provocative ads that presented the refugee crisis in local terms. For the most part, they succeeded -- some radio stations weren't entirely comfortable with broadcasting the ads. However, the campaign is taking off worldwide, airing everywhere from Brazil to Kosovo. BBDO hopes to expand the campaign through partnerships with other companies. For example, the firm hopes to launch a water bottle cap ad -- when customers look at the bottom of the cap, they'll see information about the availability of drinking water for refugees.

"People are generally numb to statistics," Mr. Scissons said, "but the one we keep bringing up is that there's 20 million people living like this. This is something that'll hopefully make people stop and think."


UN agency airs 'edgy' ads on plight of refugees
'It gets people talking,' TV ad creator says
Norma Greenaway, Ottawa Citizen; CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, May 09, 2007

OTTAWA - A new Canadian-made ad campaign designed to raise awareness about the plight of the world's refugees is also raising some eyebrows.

The heart of the pro-bono work by advertising agency BBDO Toronto is a provocative 30-second television spot featuring an animated snail being ripped from its shell with tweezers. The tag line reads: "If you think taking one snail from its home is disturbing, you should know it's already been done to 21 million people."

The ad, being distributed by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees to television stations in Canada and a dozen countries in Europe, South America and Africa, is edgier than the usual United Nations fare.

Patrick Scissons, BBDO's associate creative director, says the world refugee crisis begs bold treatment.

"Obviously, there are a lot of charitable causes out there vying for attention and support," Scissons said Tuesday in an interview from Toronto. "There is a need to stand out."

Scissons and UN officials say they are unfazed by critics who have seen the ad on the UNHCR's website and who complain it is too graphic and should be pulled. "For me it's good. It gets people talking," said Scissons. "If we've done that, we've done our job."

He also stressed the ad is pure animation, with the exception of the hand holding the tweezers.

Scissons says he toyed with the idea of putting a little asterisk at the foot of the ad saying; "No real snails were harmed in the making of the commercial," but he decided it wasn't necessary.

The campaign, which also includes radio and print spots, can be viewed on the UN agency's website, www.unhcr.ca/help

Because almost all the work by animators, sound technicians and others was done for free, the only cost to UNHCR was $4,400 to make copies.

Scissons said he is bent on waking Canadians and others living in comfortable, democratic societies to the refugee nightmare of violence, persecution and homelessness.

Mock radio ads to be aired in Toronto tell residents of certain neighbourhoods that they have been displaced.

"Please be advised your families have been evicted, beaten and are running eastbound on Circle Drive to save their lives," says one.

Nanda Na Champassak, a senior UNHCR official in Canada, said the campaign is harder hitting than previous ones but that UNHCR officials at all levels embraced the approach.

UNHCR cites the many people being displaced by conflicts in Iraq, Sudan's Darfur region and Colombia as today's most critical refugee hot spots.

Scissons latched on to the idea of getting his firm to help create a new refugee campaign after one of UNHCR's mailings landed on his doorstep. He said the information was moving, but he thought it could be presented more compellingly.


By Pablo Morales

The last time NACLA devoted a report to immigration (“Welcome to America: The Immigration Backlash,” November/December 1995), we noted: “The roots of the backlash are essentially twofold: economic uncertainty and uneasiness about the country’s changing demographics.” While the themes of economic fear and nativism persist, today’s immigration battle is powerfully conditioned by two new factors: a boom in immigration, largely from Mexico, and the post-9/11 securitization of U.S. society.

The undocumented population has not only doubled since 1996 (reaching today’s estimated 12 million), but it has dispersed throughout the United States, providing cheap labor to a variety of industries. And as a few authors in this Report note, the September 11 attacks renewed the U.S.-Mexico border as a site of crisis in the popular imaginary. With the governors of Arizona and New Mexico having declared states of emergency on their borders, this sense of urgency has largely served to designate undocumented immigrants as a national security threat, with “Secure our borders!” as the rallying cry.

A first step in understanding the conflict lies in analyzing the anti-immigration movement itself. As Solana Larsen shows, this movement is a complex, decentralized web of think tanks, foundations, political action committees, politicians, media personalities, and grassroots groups. It spans both private and public power, from the white supremacist fringe to the halls of Congress. It not only musters popular support and helps to foster a general anti-immigrant climate, but it also raises millions of dollars to advance its policy goals (curtailing immigration, deporting the undocumented) in Washington.

The Minutemen vigilantes patrolling the border see themselves as fulfilling a duty that the U.S. government has failed to execute. Yet, as Forrest Wilder reports, immigration authorities have launched a major crackdown, arresting undocumented people, including families with children, and jailing them indefinitely. This has ramped up demand for facilities, giving rise to a nationwide “detention archipelago”—a series of detention centers largely run for profit by companies contracted by the government.

Anti-immigrant activists have also targeted urban day laborers, most of them Latino immigrants, as they congregate on street corners or at stores like Home Depot looking for construction work. Besides suffering violent attacks, employer abuses, and harassment, day laborers are portrayed as job-stealing criminals. Drawing on a national survey of day laborers, Abel Valenzuela Jr. demolishes five of the most pernicious myths about them and discusses the National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s successes in protecting these workers’ rights.

Day laborers’ activism is but one example of the labor movement’s revitalization through recruiting immigrants. As home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, California, argues Ruth Milkman, has led the way. The groundswell of anti–Proposition 187 activism in the 1990s, together with a unionizing push, built the momentum that gave us last year’s mass mobilizations—in which millions of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets to denounce the now derailed Sensenbrenner bill.
With a wave of naturalizations and impressive turnout at the November 2006 midterm elections, the national Latino-labor vote may be poised to effect real change.

Finally, the immigration debate has spotlighted tensions between African American and Latino communities. Lost in the rancor are the voices of longtime community leaders who insist harmony is possible. Rene P. Ciria-Cruz gives us a close look at South Los Angeles—a formerly majority black district transformed in a decade by Latino immigration—and spotlights the key role these leaders and old-fashioned community organizing have played in resolving conflicts and building unity.

This Report thus intervenes in the immigration debate at a critical point. As we go to print, the STRIVE Act has been unveiled in Congress as a potential compromise between liberals and conservatives. It would provide a qualified citizenship path to the undocumented, institute a temporary worker program, and intensify border enforcement.

This being as “progressive” as an immigration bill gets in Washington these days, it’s clear that the struggle for comprehensive change in U.S. policy is far from over. We hope this Report provides the information and analysis that pro-immigrant stakeholders in this debate need to keep up the fight.