Elvira Arellano Denied Entry into Canada

Posted by admin on Feb 12th, 2008

Elvira Arellano, a Mexican citizen and sanctuary-deportee whose situation galvanized immigrant rights activism across the US, was scheduled to arrive in Vancouver to speak at a public forum on Sanctuary and Migrant Justice on Sunday Feb 10th and to join the US-based Marche Migrante on Tues Feb 12th at the border. Elvira, however, was not allowed entry into Canada on Sat Feb 9th. No reasons were given for her refusal and it is believed she was held in detention prior to being deported back to Mexico. A member of No One Is Illegal Vancouver was called by immigration authorities, expressing ‘concern’ that Elvira’s visit was only for 3-4 days and asked if it was true that Elvira was here to speak at a rally / for political purposes.

Arellano took refuge in the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago in 2006. Over the year, she become a spokesperson for the New Sanctuary Movement, as well as president of La Familia Latina Unida, and a symbol of resistance against the systemic violence, exploitation, and racism in the US immigration system. On August 19, 2007, having traveled to California on a speaking tour where she advocated the right of immigrant families to stay united, the single mother was arrested by US authorities and deported to Mexico, without her son.

According to an August 2007 Globe and Mail report “Faced with a spike in refugee claims from Mexicans – the country is now the top source of asylum seekers in Canada – Canadian authorities have been refusing entry to increasing numbers of Mexican citizens attempting to visit the country as tourists.Those turned away complain of harsh, insensitive and even racist treatment from Canadian officials”.

Since Mexican citizens are not required to get a visa to enter Canada immigration officers at the airport and at the border are given the power to determine whether or not they are allowed in, costing visitors thousands of dollars, resulting in maltreatment, stress and fear.

Elvira’s refusal and turn-back reveals the abritraty and restrictive nature of the immigration enforcement system deployed against racialized migrants, particularly in the post 911 climate and with the implementation of border agreements such as the Safe Third Country Agreement and Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement.

Therefore, it is crucial that we continue to struggle against the pain, anxiety, and violence caused by this regime of border imperialism and continue to actively organize ourselves to support dignity and self-determination for migrants.

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