Ontario accused ‘racial profiling blitz’ against undocumented migrants

By , on September 2, 2014

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“Is Premier Kathleen Wynne going to stand with the federal government’s racist agenda or is she going to stand with immigrants?” asked Syed Hussan.

Hussan is part of the organization No One Is Illegal, which held a protest Monday by Queen’s Park.

Recently, provincial authorities have been accused of “racial profiling” after approving a series of vehicle inspections last week. According to reports, the border enforcement officials targeted undocumented migrants.

“People are waking up in fear across the city, across the province. They are afraid of going to work, sending their kids to school or going to the hospital because they are not sure if their cars are going to be pulled over simply because of the colour of their skin,” Hussan added.

On Thursday, the Canada Border Services Agency apprehended 21 people for various violations of immigration laws, such as lapsed visas or failure to appear for their scheduled removal. Most of the migrants were Latin American construction crew.

Some of the arrested individuals were deported Tuesday.

“The ministry’s activities were focused on vehicle inspections and we were not involved in any activities related to undocumented workers,” Ajay Woozageer, spokesperson for Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO), told Toronto Star.

Woozageer emphasized that MTO was simply “invited” to be part of the motor vehicle enforcement initiative, which included border patrol and a sole participant from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). He added that out of the 25 inspected cars on Thursday, nine were taken out of the road. Corresponding charges were filed.

Hussan revealed that the passengers involved in the vehicle inspections were “coerced” to produce their IDs. The Star reported that some passengers were even forced into signing documents that allegedly waived “their rights for a preremoval risk assessment” in order to determine if they could be safely deported.

The said documents were reportedly presented without any form of translation to facilitate better understanding.

When asked about the said series of manner inspection, OPP Sgt. Pierre Chamberland said that those conducting the inspection cannot demand any form of identification–such as IDs–from those being inspected.

“The passenger can refuse to answer questions,” said Sgt. Chamberland.

No One Is Illegal has launched an online petition calling out to Premier Wynne not “to support (PM Stephen) Harper’s anti-migrant agenda.” The group is also considering filing complaints due to the reported racial profiling incident.

Premier Wynne’s office is yet to release a statement as of posting.

With reports from Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star