National Alert: Unprecedented Raids in Ontario!

Posted by admin on Apr 4th, 2009

This is an URGENT NATIONAL ALERT being sent out by our allies in No One Is Illegal Toronto. Approximately 100 (exact figures unconfirmed) migrant and non-status workers have been detained in large-scale workplace enforcement actions in Ontario, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area district. There has been minimal media reporting on these huge-scale operations, a local report on one of the raids in Bradford is available at:

If you are in Toronto, there is an Emergency Action on Sunday April 5th at 11 am, 385 Rexdale Boulevard. Details at:


April 4, 2009 – Executing massive and unprecedented US-style raids in East Toronto, Leamington, and Bradford/Simcoe County, the Canada Border Services Agency has arrested and detained over 100 migrant workers across Southern Ontario, who are now languishing in detention centres.

Hundreds of families and friends are wondering right now why their loved ones have not returned from work. The hundreds of thousands of non-status people across Canada have woken up to a horrible day in Kanada.

On early Thursday morning, enforcement officers stormed into three different businesses in Bradford and Markham where they arrested migrant workers. CBSA even followed workers to their homes throughout the GTA and surrounding areas. In total 80 people were arrested. They were placed on GO buses, handcuffed and held immobile for hours.

“One of my relatives was arrested in the raid. She called me from jail this morning. She and her co-workers are terrified that they may be deported at any time,” said Jonathan Canchela, chair of the Filipino Migrant Workers Movement- and member of Migrante-Ontario.

On the same day in Leamington, eight agricultural workers were arrested. The workers were traveling to the farm where they work with a contractor when they were pulled over and arrested.

Simultaneously over a dozen agricultural workers were arrested in East Toronto on the Danforth, some from their homes.

“In this economic crisis, companies are hiring us to save money. In my case, I’ve no work permit. I need to send money for my children to go to school. That is why I have to work. There are so many like me in this country, more than a million. Why not a regularization program so we can pay taxes. Many of us are skilled and qualified and could help the country at the same time as we send the money back home”, says Henry, who was arrested on Thursday and is presently in the Detention Centre.

Following the large workplace raids in June 2008, these coordinated attacks and arrests show Harper and Immigration Minister Kenney’s intention to terrorize those they consider the weakest – Tamil, Vietnamese, Laotian, Mexican, Caribbean, Thai, Filipino and Chinese workers simply trying to survive. In the middle of this recession, the Tory government is spending money and energy on arresting people, piling them into detention centers and buying their plane tickets, instead of supporting social services for those in need.

Detention Reviews are taking place in Toronto at various locations including the Heritage Detention Centre on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of us will be outside the Heritage Inn on Sunday at 11am to show our disgust and anger – we are not disposable workers to be used and tossed away at Harper’s whims. We refuse to be brutalized and silenced! Condemn Harper and tell the CBSA that migrant communities will not tolerate these attacks!

No One Is Illegal-Toronto
Migrante ON
Justicia for Migrant Workers
PCLS Workers Rights Division
Law Union of Onatario
Caregivers Community Support Centre

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