We did it! CBSA and Force Four Force have confirmed that footage from the immigration raid on March 13 won’t be broadcast!
A recent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) memo cites “negative public response.” Thank you to everyone who signed petitions, endorsed letters, wrote and called the producers and broadcasters, spread the word and took action!
Diana Thompson, an Indigenous woman whose husband Tulio Renan Hernandez was filmed and has since been deported to Honduras, says “We all feel extremely relieved by the news and are grateful to everyone who spoke out. We want this episode and the whole show cancelled.”
This briefing memo, just released through an access-to-information request, also states that CBSA President Luc Portelance has now placed limitations on the filming of Inland Enforcement activities to situations involving individuals wanted for “serious criminality” or those featured on CBSA’s “most wanted” list. CBSA believes that this will “continue to highlight inland enforcement work while removing the key issue at play.”
While this new CBSA directive is a result of the strength and momentum of our collective pressure, the key issues continue to remain at play:
1) The series is embedded within CBSA and tells a one-sided narrative. The approval by Prime Minister Harper and Minister Toews to fund a private commercial production, as well as the fact that this new directive comes from CBSA and not the production company, show that the CBSA and Harper government have editorial control over this disgusting for-profit reality TV series and use it to amplify Tory propaganda. At least $220,000 of public funds are being spent on salary and travel expenses for CBSA staff to escort Force Four film crews.
2) This new directive only applies to Inland Enforcement – away from the border – yet most episodes are filmed at the border, where hundreds of people, including vulnerable migrants, cross daily under varying circumstances or are in the process of migration.
3) Lack of free consent continues to be a broad-based concern. It is highly questionable whether anyone filmed for this show – whether at the border or inland, whether migrant or citizen, whether Indigenous or visitor – is giving free and informed consent to being filmed while under the control of CBSA. This is the key issue behind a legal complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner and is a main concern of the Canadian Bar Association. This recent memo claims that “all procedures and protocols were followed correctly” to obtain consent in the filming of the immigration raid, despite the fact that at least one worker who was filmed has publicly stated that he felt pressured to give consent because he was detained!
4) This directive to only film migrants inland who “have serious criminal records” or “are on the most wanted list” carries serious long-term impacts of criminalizing migrant communities. In the context of increasingly exclusionary policies at the federal level, including for example mandatory detention for many refugees, it perpetuates the racist stereotype of migrants and people of colour as those to be suspicious of. Furthermore, CBSA’s “most wanted” list is the subject of a federal Privacy Complaint and has been condemned by groups including Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International, and Refugee Lawyers Association. When CBSA could not get sufficient numbers of cases on this list, they broadened the criteria to include people who don’t even have deportation orders against them! To now bring up this list is clearly fear-mongering.
CBSA’s memo states that “negative public response may continue,” suggesting they know how fundamentally problematic Border Security is and that tens of thousands of us will not stop until this series is cancelled. The Canadian Bar Association has released an unprecedented letter urging Minister Toews to withdraw CBSA’s participation in the show, and a legal complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner has been filed by the BC Civil Liberties Association. Over 250 cultural professionals, over 90 community, advocacy and legal organizations, as well as a petition with over 24,000 signatures are all calling for this unethical production’s cancellation!
One episode down, a series to go. We can do this, together. This is our collective victory and our collective struggle to continue. Deportation is not Entertainment, Cancel Border Security!