March 30, 2011, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories – The refugee rights and migrant justice group No One Is Illegal is outraged at the xenophobic message of an ad campaign launched by the Conservative Government of Canada. The 30 second ad (which can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1eoGi5omvU) features photos of the MV Sun Sea carrying 492 Tamil refugees in August 2010 and refers to the asylum seekers as “criminals… abusing Canadian generosity.” According to Magin Payet, member of No One Is Illegal, “The Conservatives are relying on fear mongering and racist stereotypes to vilify refugees and asylum seekers. Over the past two years, the Conservative government and Jason Kenney have consistently and deliberately tried to create an atmosphere of paranoia to justify their growing trend of anti-refugee policies, including the widely condemned Bill C49, and the prolonged detention of almost 600 Tamil refugees aboard Ocean Lady and MV Sun Sea.”
“While chameleon Kenney tries to buy the immigrant vote by watching cricket and eating in ethnic restaurants, his anti-immigrant record speaks for itself. Kenney has drastically expanded slave-like temporary worker programs, under which migrant workers are exploited as cheap labour without basic rights. Meanwhile, the number of accepted refugees and permanent residents has plummeted,” states Sozan Savehilaghi, member of No One Is Illegal.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s annual report the number of refugees who had their asylum claims approved has dropped by 56% over the past four years. Since, 2008 the number of temporary foreign workers (>250,000 people) in Canada now exceeds the number of permanent residents. The number of family class immigrants accepted into Canada has dropped by 10,000 and the number of skilled worker visas has decreased by 20% since the Conservatives took power.
“The Conservative’s recent proposal to make spousal sponsorships for permanent residence conditional for two years is yet another attack on immigrant families. Under the guise of cracking down on marriage fraud, this proposed regulation will ensure that sponsored partners are living with precarious status, alongside hundreds of thousands of nonstatus people in this country. This makes women in particular extremely vulnerable to domestic and gender violence,” states Harsha Walia, member of No One Is Illegal.
“The Canadian immigration system is structurally flawed and oppressive. From historic injustices like the Chinese Head Tax and Komagata Maru to the present day, statistics and people’s lived experiences have repeatedly pointed to the racism and labour exploitation within Canadian immigration policies. We assert that no human being is illegal and that everyone has the right to sustenance and livelihood. All politicians should be aware that immigrant communities will not easily be persuaded by any empty election promises given the bleak history of human rights and justice for immigrant communities in Canada,” continues Walia.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Magin Payet 778 862 8895