NOII Toronto Victory! CBSA Pushed Out of Women Shelter

Posted by admin on Dec 1st, 2010

Link to read the policy directive

The Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC) of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), GTA Region, has issued a directive to all its officers, stating:
1. When conducting a road investigation, officers will not enter shelters or other spaces designated as resources for women fleeing/experiencing violence.
2. Officers are not to wait outside or approach the above-noted spaces and will maintain a reasonable distance.
3. Officers are not to approach the above-noted spaces to make any inquiries into the identity of women who may be the subject of an immigration investigation. This includes inquiries made to the staff, volunteers and other residents.

After 2 years of grassroots organizing with migrant women and trans activists, residents and users of anti-violence against women agencies and anti-violence against women service providers the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign has successfully pushed immigration officers out of spaces for women surviving violence and abuse.

According to the directive above, Immigration Enforcement cannot enter or approach womenÂ’s shelters, drop-ins, child protection services, counseling services, community health and legal clinics, neighborhood centres with violence against women programs, rape crisis centers, second stage housing and transitional support programs, and other agencies that provide violence against women supports and programs.

Over the years, we have seen women and transpeople denied refugee status and deported to death. We have seen migrant women forced to work in exploitative and vulnerable conditions, denied workplace protections. For too long undocumented women, particularly survivors of violence, have been unable to access support in the GTA for fear of being arrested, detained and deported. Far too many times, undocumented women have been targeted and arrested in places they gathered for support and strength.

This policy is part of the process of creating safety, justice and dignity for undocumented communities, particularly women, transpeople and children surviving and fighting back against abuse and violence. This is part of the campaign to make all social services in the GTA accessible to undocumented women, particularly survivors of violence.

To ensure that Immigration Enforcement complies with their directive, please paste the directive below prominently at the entrances to your agency. If Immigration Enforcement appears, remind them of their obligation to respect this directive and ask them to leave. We are encouraging all social services in the city to implement a full ‘Access Without Fear’ policy. Download this draft policy below.

No One Is Illegal-Toronto will be tracking the effectiveness of this directive. Please email if CBSA shows up at your service to report how the interaction went.

While this directive has improved access to services for undocumented women, we wish to reiterate that our work and organizing has never been about gaining concessions from Immigration Enforcement. Our struggle is
about justice and dignity for migrants, irrespective of immigration status – and that struggle continues. We will continue to fight for a stay on all deportations, particularly for women, children and trans-people who are
survivors of violence and a full and inclusive regularization program.

On March 8th, 2010, members of the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign declared “It is our responsibility to ensure that women, transpeople and children in our communities do not live in daily fear of detention and
deportation, especially when seeking support”. We stand by our declaration and remind ourselves and our communities that though policies may come and go, real protection and strength comes from within us.

We will continue to organize for a city that is safe and just for all its residents, irrespective of immigration status. We commit again today to continue organizing until racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist and exclusionary immigration enforcement cannot function in our city.


How Shelter|Sanctuary|Status pushed out Immigration Enforcement

02 Oct 2008: After over 6 months of conversations with migrant women of color, undocumented women and activists, No One Is Illegal-Toronto with the Workers Action Centre, Interim Place and others launches the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign. Demands are: immigration enforcement out of Anti-VAW spaces and status for Isabel Garcia. Over a 120 organizations across Canada endorse.

25 Nov 2008: Campaign begins workshops with undocumented women, service providers and others at Anti-VAW spaces across GTA. Workshops focus on making all anti-violence against women services accessible to undocumented women survivors of violence and to bar immigration enforcement from entering or
waiting outside Anti-VAW spaces.

5 Apr 2009: A demonstration is organized at Rexdale Immigration Holding Centre after massive workplace raids. Survivors of violence, including undocumented women attend in large numbers:

11 May 2009: Campaign begins to train feminists, students and undocumented women to carry out educationals and workshops.

12 Sep 2009: Shelter|Sanctuary|Status Campaign joins TRCC for the 2009 Take Back the Night March under the banner ‘Take Back the Night! No More Hiding!’

25 Nov 2009: Shelter|Sanctuary|Status Campaign hosts a GTA-wide gathering and public event insisting ‘Deportation is Violence Against Women’.

08 Mar 2010: Emergency public meeting after repeated reports of immigration enforcement attempting to arrest undocumented women at anti-violence against women spaces. ( and Catherine Porter from The Star:

08 Mar 2010: On International Women’s Day 2010, the Campaign made a declaration asserting that all undocumented women be able to access services without fear across the GTA, inviting all anti-violence against women agencies to sign on.

12 Apr 2010: Shelter|Sanctuary|Status takes a delegation to the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre demanding an end to immigration enforcement at any site serving undocumented women, children and trans-folk survivors of violence.

29 Oct 2010: Immigration Enforcement issues a directive instructing officers to neither wait outside nor enter any space that supports undocumented women survivors of violence:

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