The Sanctuary City Movement:
Challenges and Possibilities
Alejandra Lopez – Sanctuary Health
Tracey Mann & Harsha Walia – No One is Illegal, Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories
Gil Aguilar – Agriculture Workers Alliance, Surrey Support Centre
WHEN: 7-9 pm, October 21st 2013
WHERE: Room 1800 SFU Harbour Centre
ACCESSIBILITY: Ground level, accessible
–Unceded Coast Salish Territory–
Currently thousands of people live in our cities without immigration papers or legal documentation. They build our cities and help make our communities strong, yet they live in fear of deportation and detention.
Deportations – carried out by Federal officials in our cities – have become increasingly frequent, emblemized by the recent deportation of undocumented construction workers in Vancouver. Most often deportations involve people who have been denied status; are refugees; are waiting on a verdict from Immigration Canada; or have arrived into the country irregularly. As Harper and the Conservative government continue to escalate their attack on working, poor and marginalized people, communities are fighting to give protection to undocumented residents. These movements have fought under the banner of global solidarity and migrant justice, asserting that “anyone here is from here.” In Toronto, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Campaign was launched by No One Is Illegal in 2004. Since then a grassroots movement called the Solidarity City Network (a coalition of 11 organizations) has made significant gains. In February, 2013, Toronto city council declared the city a Sanctuary City, granting universal access to municipal services irrespective of immigration status.
Against the Conservative agenda, including cuts to health care services for refugees, the Toronto example shows that it is possible to fight back. What are the stakes of this movement, and is it possible to carry the struggle for a Sanctuary City in the city of Vancouver?
No One is Illegal//
No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories is a grassroots anti-colonial migrant justice group with leadership from members of migrant and/or racialized backgrounds. NOII strives and struggles for the right to remain, the freedom to move, and the right to return. As a movement for self-determination that challenges the ideology of immigration controls, NOII combats racial profiling, detention and deportation, the national security apparatus, law enforcement brutality, and exploitative working conditions of migrants.
Sanctuary Health is an alliance of concerned citizens and health care providers formed in response to Bill C-31 (The Refugee Exclusion Act) and to cuts in IFH coverage for refugees. Sanctuary Health’s membership includes health care providers and service professionals, refugees and migrants, representatives from organizations supporting refugees and migrants, and concerned members of the public. Sanctuary Health believes that access to healthcare is a fundamental right for all people, including refugees and migrants.
Agriculture Workers Alliance, AWA-Surrey//
AWA-Surrey promotes the recognition of the value of migrant agriculture workers while raising awareness about the conditions of exploitation, inequality and workplace discrimination faced by migrant agriculture workers. AWA-Surrey supports workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean who come to Canada as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. AWA Surrey provides advocacy in cases of violation of migrant workers labour and human rights