Undocumented migrants want Montreal to cut ties between police and border services
Undocumented migrants hid their identities in masks on Sunday as demonstrators in Cote-des-Neiges wore orange butterfly wings to symbolize a freedom migrants don't have: the ability to travel anywhere they'd like in Montreal with impunity.
“On the one hand, [Montreal] calls itself a sanctuary city, and on the other hand, it cooperates with the repressive border police who are sending people back to the US as a supposed safe third country,” said activist Robert McBride at Sunday's demonstation at Nelson Mandela Park
Migrants and supporters are calling on the city to sever the ties between Montreal police and the Canada Border Services Agency to ensure the undocumented are not deported when trying to seek help. They also want montreal to provide additional services on top of those that are part of its status as a sanctuary city, like providing access to health care and work permits.
Some of the migrants that shared their stories say they are growing disillusioned with the actual reality for undocumented migrants in Canada, versus the image of a welcoming country—and welcoming prime minister—they felt was sold to them.
“[Trudeau] assured that Canada had its doors open,” said Zain Alabdullah, speaking through a translator. She says she was moved by the images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting Syrian refugees arriving in Canada at Toronto's Pearson Airport last year.
She says now that she is here, she is immigration limbo and unable to qualify for refugee status—this after fleeing war-torn Syria mere months ago, and illegally crossing into Quebec.
Alabdullah was held as a political detainee in Aleppo, and says she now suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and is constantly in fear she will be sent back to a country too dangerous to return to.
Quebec has become the most popular illegal crossing point into Canada for undocumented migrants; in May alone there were 742 illegal crossing made from the United Status into La Belle Province, according to federal government data.
—with files from Kelly Greig and Lindsay Richardson of CTV Montreal