Marcos Baac now faces Refugee Board

Posted by admin on Jul 4th, 2007


Refugee Hearing: Fri July 6 @ 8 am at 300 West Georgia (CIC offices)

Thursday July 5, Vancouver- Marcos Baac, a Mexican migrant farm worker who had been threatened with forced deportation after speaking out against labour violations will now be facing an Immigration and Refugee Board judge on Friday July 6 at 8 am.

Marcos Baac became well-known in May 2006 when he received notice on May 9th from Golden Eagle Farms in Pitt Meadows that he would be sent back to Mexico immediately. Baac believed that this forced repatriation was a reprisal for being vocal in raising concerns about the farm’s poor working and living conditions. In April 2006, after failed attempts to bring their concerns directly to the employer and the Mexican consulate, Baac, along with 31 other workers at the farm, wrote a public letter outlining several workplace and living condition grievances.

Baac received widespread public support, including from Jim Sinclair, President of the BC Federation of Labour and MP Bill Siksay, NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic. They called upon the federal and provincial government to protect migrant workers and called it a violation of Baac’s rights to be sent back against his will simply for legitimately speaking out to improve workplace conditions.

Baac had arrived in Canada as a migrant farm worker under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, which has been the subject of great controversy. Mariana Payet with the Marcos Baac Support Committee and No One is Illegal states “Marcos’s situation highlights the inherent problems with such guest worker programs. Anytime a worker raises a legitimate concern about their working conditions, they are threatened with deportation. The vulnerability of migrant workers like Marcos Baac allows businesses to exploit migrant workers, with the blessing of the federal government.”

Adriana Paz, with Justicia for Migrant Workers, has visited and documented working and living conditions on BC’s farms for over two years. According to her “The Canadian government insists that foreign agricultural workers are treated the same as Canadian workers, but the reality is that migrant workers face a myriad of problems including low wages, long hours with no overtime pay, unsafe and rigorous working conditions, unhealthy accommodations, family separation, no access to any appeal mechanism, being unable to effectively unionize, and lack of access to basic social services. Migrant workers are essentially indentured servants.”

Since his termination from Golden Eagle Farms, Baac has worked in construction and has filed a refugee claim in Canada, fearing persecution in Mexico, including based on the public attention he has received as a migrant labour organizer who challenged both his employer and the Mexican consulate. His refugee hearing will be held this Friday July 6 at 8 am at CIC offices (300 West Georgia).

* For background information on Marcos’s termination from Golden Eagle Farms and the Letter that was written by workers at Golden Eagle farms, please click here.

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