The People v. Jason Kenney

Posted by admin on May 13th, 2010

The People v. Kenney
Freedom to move
Right to stay, and to Return
We are many.

No One Is Illegal is calling on you to join a growing campaign of people across the country who are making it known that we will not accept Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney’s continuing violence against refugees and migrant workers, his racist attacks and tirades against immigrants, or his blatant acts of censorship of anti-occupation efforts.

* Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney’s Record

Migrants and asylum seekers are facing greater difficulties than before with fundamental shifts in immigration and refugee policy under Kenney. Deportations from Canada have skyrocketed 50% over the last decade, with 13,000 deportations in the past year.  Since the Conservatives came into in power, the number of approved asylum claims has dropped by 56%. Kenney’s 2009 report reveals a decreasing “target” of 11,000 people to be accepted refugees and sponsored family members. In March 2010, Habtom Kibraeb, an Eritrean refugee, committed suicide in Halifax from fear of a pending deportation.

Kenney’s recent refugee reforms create two tiers of refugees, establishing a racist hierarchy based on nationality. These changes also download financial and social support of 2,000 refugees to private organizations and drastically limit legal avenues such as the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and Humanitarian & Compassionate claims available to refugee claimants. What Kenney misleadingly declares a “much-needed overhaul” is actually a dismantling of an already minimalist refugee protection system. The ‘refugee case backlog’ that Kenney refers to is one that was created by the Tories themselves through their understaffing of the Immigration and Refugee Board. In fact, one of the few appointments that Kenney did make to the Board is an infamous anti-gay activist, Doug Cryer.

In 2009 Kenney imposed visa requirements on Mexico and the Czech Republic, claiming that refugees from those countries were “system-abusers”. In December 2008, a 24-year-old woman was deported to Mexico, where she was murdered. She had applied for asylum in Canada twice. This tragedy occurred while Kenney was imposing visa requirements on Mexicans. In early 2010, Kenney justified the two-month long detention of 76 Tamil asylum seekers in B.C. by falsely suggesting they were “security threats,” even though they were all subsequently released.

As avenues for refugees and permanent residency are being slashed, temporary worker programs have proliferated under Kenney. Since migrant workers are always under the threat of deportation, exploitative work conditions are endemic to such programs. Workers endure long hours, low pay, the denial of basic entitlements, and lack of labour protections.  Permanently Temporary: this is the immigration model that corporations dream of. More people are now admitted to Canada under Temporary Employment Authorizations than as permanent residents, further eroding the myth of a benevolent Canadian immigration policy. In October 2009, the federal government proposed major changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. One regulation limits most workers to a term of four years, after which a six-year ban will be imposed before these workers can return to Canada.

To ensure a constant state of fear and vulnerability within non-status and migrant workers, Kenney has also overseen at least 8 work-place raids in Ontario, where Canadian Border Service Agency officers have stormed farms, factories, and homes. The largest immigration raid took place in April 2009 when over 100 non-status and migrant workers were arrested, detained, and almost half were deported within 48 hours without even basic access to legal counsel.

In addition to significant policy changes, Kenney has defended a series of oppressive comments that have deeply influenced public discourse:
• Based on his roots in the conservative Canadian Tax Payers Federation, Kenney declared that he wanted provincial governments to curb social assistance – already grossly inadequate – to refugee claimants.
• He wants to get tough on immigrants who do not integrate or speak the colonial languages of English and French.
• He has said that he will not tolerate refugee claimants who are “bogus”. He is currently the subject of a Federal Court inquiry on whether such statements have interfered with the independence of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
• He supports Quebec’s Bill C-94 that discriminates against women who wear the niqab (face veil) by denying them essential public services including health and education, thus perpetuating gender inequality by forcing Muslim women not to wear certain clothes.
• He spoke against a UN report documenting poverty, discrimination, and racial profiling in Canada.

Such comments and beliefs are not simply harmless free speech. In 2009, Kenney introduced a new citizenship guide which listed the obligations of citizenship as including getting a job. Notably omitted is mention of the rights of lesbian, gay, and trans people. It was later revealed that Kenney had deliberately removed LGBT references from the guide. The guide does, however, make ample room for Canada’s military history and a recruitment advertisement.

Kenney has also played a key role in influencing foreign policy by:
• Labelling Iraq war resisters as bogus refugee claimants.
• Barring British MP George Galloway, because of his opposition to the military occupation of Afghanistan.
• Pulling Canada out of the Durban World Conference Against Racism even before the apartheid state of Israel did.
• Cutting ESL funding to the Canadian Arab Federation due to their involvement in pro-Palestinian efforts.

It’s time to give Kenney the boot!

* No one is Illegal, the System is Illegal!

We do not advocate for more humane politicians or more generous laws. We demand an end to detentions and deportations and the violence of all cages of control. We demand the abolition of exploitative temporary worker programs. We demand workers control over their own production, not corporate wage-slave working conditions that commodifies human beings especially women. We demand status for all those who have been deemed illegal in order to justify theft of their labour.  From Turtle Island to Afghanistan, we demand the dismantling of Fortress North America and its border security pacts as well as the global military-industrial complex, all of which deliberately creates and justifies a culture of fear and repression.

We say this because we challenge the very notion that some people are more deserving of a fulfilling life than others.  Ideologies of worth are based on racism and domination that have justified the dehumanization and genocide of peoples across the world. Instead, we assert the basic principle of self-determination. That people have the right to remain in their homes in the face of global displacement due to land theft, occupation, corporate globalization, and other capitalist and imperialist forces. That in light of the freedom afforded to capital and armies, people are free to move whether due to persecution or poverty, or simply in order to flourish with dignity. That people have the inherent right to return to the lands of which they have been unjustly dispossessed.

The Canadian state and its economy are built on the theft of Indigenous lands; the exploitation of labour, especially slave, migrant, and reproductive labour; and the global appropriation of natural resources. The ongoing apartheid reality instituted through reserves and sweatshops is one that must be fundamentally uprooted and transformed. We envision and actively strive to create a humanity where everyone has the right to sustenance and the ability to provide it, where we are free of oppression, misery, and exploitation, and are able to live meaningfully with one another and in reverence for the land that sustains us.

Justice not Charity!

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