Demonstrations Stop Deportation at York University

Posted by admin on Mar 28th, 2008

Watch media coverage of demonstration here

TORONTO- Shaken by the outrage of protestors who poured into York University’s Vary Hall on Wednesday, Immigration Canada was forced to grant Sarah (Saint-Sierra) Leonty a 2 year stay in Canada while her Humanitarian and Compassionate Application is processed. Sarah’s mother and two younger siblings slated for deportation yesterday, had their deportation cancelled and were also granted a 2 year stay. The crowd consisted of students and faculty from York, U of T and Ryerson all demanding that Sarah be allowed to stay. Student and labour unions, along with faculty and community organisations took to the mic calling on York University to declare itself a sanctuary school to be free of Immigration Enforcement. Amidst chants, echoing “Education, Not Deportation! Access Not Fear” and “Status for Sarah! Status for All!” University President Shoukri was pressured to issue a statement in support of this case.

Sarah bravely stated, “This is not just about my case. York University should take the lead in implementing a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy so that all students can access education, regardless of their immigration status.” “It’s a shame that undocumented students like Sarah, people who have lived, worked and participated in communities here can be treated as
second class residents. Economically they are one of the most marginalized groups, yet post-secondary institutions demand they pay impossibly high international student fees,” said Jen Hassum, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario.

“As faculty, I’m inspired to see students organizing to reclaim the university as their space. York should be a safe place of learning and a sanctuary zone that is free of Immigration Enforcement” said David McNally, Chair of York’s Political Science Department. “Sarah’s case is not an isolated one. Over 200,000 non-status people reside in the GTA, having fallen through the cracks of Canada’s failing Immigration and Refugee Protection Act . While sustaining the economy by performing the most exploitative work, they live in constant fear of detention and deportation.” shared Faria Kamal, a York student and organiser with the No One Is Illegal-Student Network.

On May 3rd, immigrants, refugees, trade unions, agencies and allies across Canada will take to the streets to demand Status for All! We will demand and end to detentions and deportations! We will demand access without fear to essential services! We will demand an end to security certificates and secret trials! We will demand a full and inclusive regularization program! We will demand justice, dignity and respect! Join us.

If you are interested in helping to build towards the upcoming May 3 National Day of Action, please contact No One Is Illegal-Toronto. or email

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