Immigration Activists Confront Minister Kenney, Kenney’s Police Stifle Dissent

Posted by admin on Mar 15th, 2011

Monday March 14, 2011, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories– The refugee rights and migrant justice organization No One Is Illegal arrived to challenge and confront Immigration Minister Jason Kenney at a citizenship ceremony today, where he made an announcement regarding the new citizenship guide. According to Nassim Elbardouh of No One Is Illegal, “Approximately 25 of us, including many recent immigrants, came to protest and challenge this repressive Minister of Censorship and Deportation. It is clear that he only wanted a photo-op as part of his so-called ethnic media strategy. He hid out the whole time while we waited and surrounded the door in anticipation of his arrival. Instead, he had over ten police officers violently remove us and two people were repeatedly threatened with arrest. Apparently we have the right to protest outside but not to actually challenge and question him to his face. The delay and disruption of the ceremony was clearly caused by him denying access to the public. Several media outlets were also denied entry. It is shameful that Kenney has to hide behind a slick PR machine and well-guarded events rather than be accountable to and face the public.”

“There is only so long that Kenney can continue to hide from a growing grassroots movement that is rejecting Kenney’s two-faced hypocrisy and repressive polices. On the one hand, Kenney appears at ceremonies like the one today to purportedly show how welcoming he is, while in reality his actions demonstrate an anti-immigrant sentiment. Canada is not more welcoming to immigrants under Kenney; the statistics speak for themselves. In Vancouver alone, hundreds of Tamil refugees who arrived over seven months ago continue to be detained in jails. Meanwhile Kenney has drastically expanded slave-like temporary worker programs, under which migrant workers are exploited as cheap labour without basic rights. Deportation is a daily experience for refugees, non status people, and migrant workers,” states Harsha Walia, member of No One Is Illegal.

Walia continues, “Today Kenney was trying to distract public attention from the fact that he has been under fire for boosting spending in his office by 35% and that he has been illegally soliciting money for advertising campaigns through the “Conservative Ethnic Paid Media Strategy” targeted at immigrant voters. He is now touting his new citizenship guide as some great claim to fame especially the inclusion of gay rights in the guide. In 2010, a Canadian Press report revealed that Kenney himself had deliberately removed gay rights references from the guide. Kenney has been forced to concede the importance of including LGBTTQ issues in the face of mounting pressure about his homophobia and given his record of voting against same-sex marriages. Furthermore, the guide continues to make reference to barbaric cultural practices such as forced marriages and honour killings, which is jargon that is fundamentally rooted in racist ideologies and appeals to public fears and Hollywood stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims rather than a systemic and universal analysis of gender violence.”

Under Kenney’s regime, an Eritrean refugee committed suicide from fear of a pending deportation, and a young woman was murdered upon her deportation to Mexico. “This whole system is a facade. It is corrupt, biased, inhumane, and arbitrary. While people are dying, Kenney is concerned about his bid to become Canada’s next prime minister. Kenney is responsible for crimes against people and should be challenged and confronted by people across the country” further states Elbardouh.

Kenney’s record:

-          The number of refugees allowed into the country has dropped by 25% under Kenney (Source: Toronto Star, Feb. 19 2011)

-          According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s annual report the number of refugees who had their asylum claims approved dropped by 56% over the past four years.

-          This annual report also revealed a decreasing “target” of 11,000 people in the number of accepted asylum seekers and sponsored family members.

-          The number of family class immigrants accepted into Canada has dropped by 10,000 since the Conservatives took power. (Source: Toronto Star, Feb. 19 2011)

-          The government has decreased skilled worker visas by about 20 per cent (Source: CBC News, Feb. 14 2011)

-          Despite assuring Parliament that admissions in the parents and grandparents visa category would remain stable in 2011, internal documents reveal that Kenney is planning on slashing parent and grandparent visas by more than 25% in 2011. (Source: The Link, Feb. 20 2011)

-          Since, 2008 the number of temporary foreign workers (>250,000 people) in Canada now exceeds the number of permanent residents (<250,000 people). (Source, CIC statistics 2008)

-          Most recently, Kenney’s refugee Bill C-11 has created a racist two tier legal system based on nationality.

-          Kenney 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.

-          Kenney spoke against a UN report documenting poverty, discrimination, and racial profiling in Canada.

-          Kenney has labelled Iraq war resisters as bogus refugee claimants.

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