Call to Action: Open the Borders

April 8, 2019

Untitledupdated April 2019

Since 2017, tens of thousands of people have entered Canada from the US at irregular border crossings, seeking a safe haven. People continue to arrive, every day.

This phenomenon is often blamed on Trump, but it must be understood globally and historically: worldwide, tens of millions of people have been forced to leave their homes because of wars, political oppression, military violence, extractivism, climate change, etc. Although it is directly involved in creating economic and social devastation in the Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, and although it is founded on the theft of indigenous lands and ongoing genocide and displacement of indigenous people, the Canadian state – just like the United States – audaciously claims the right to limit who can enter and who can legally stay in these stolen indigenous lands.

Rejecting the racist and specifically islamophobic mainstream narrative about migrants, Solidarity Across Borders calls for open borders, solidarity cities (radical solidarity and mutual aid), an end to deportation, immigration detention and double punishment, and an inclusive and ongoing regularization process (Status For All, now!).

Global Apartheid

Borders drive migrants from country to country; separate families; force families onto leaky boats, through deserts and snow. Borders kill.

This violence isn’t arbitrary. Borders play a crucial role in the capitalist system and its “migrant crisis.” North American borders, originally established by colonial wars to stake out the claims of European colonizers, also serve to control migration. They prevent people from leaving violence, poverty and exploitation. Borders push people into precarity without legal status, criminalizing them, making them easy prey to capitalist and patriarchal exploitation. Borders keep the global apartheid system in place.

Attempts to Expand the US-Canada Refugee Exclusion Pact

Refugees coming from the US to Quebec and Canada have had no choice but to cross irregularly at Roxham Road and other ad hoc points of entry since the Safe Third Country Agreement came into effect in 2004. This agreement between Canada and the USA prevents migrants, with some exceptions, from making refugee claims at a regular Canadian border post if they come from the USA (and vice versa). This means migrants entering Canada from the US can only make a refugee claim if they first cross “irregularly.” This policy has already taken the lives of migrants: we honour the memory of Mavis Otuteye, who died in June 2017. It causes others to be deported or be forced underground to avoid deportation.

Canada’s new ‘Border Security’ minister is now lobbying American officials to extend the Safe Third Country agreement across the entire border. If he succeeds, this would effectively close this border completely to refugees (with a few exceptions). At the same time, in April 2019, the government introduced new legislation in the budget bill which, if it passes, will prevent people who have made refugee claims in the United States (and England, Australia, and New Zealand) from making them in Canada.

The Refugee System: Masking the Political, Breaking Solidarity

People who overcome the many barriers and actually succeed in making a refugee claim in Canada are then pushed into putting their efforts and hopes into their individual cases: trying to prove that they are “real refugees” and “good immigrants.” This lengthy, depoliticized, bureaucratic fight is isolating, exhausting, often humiliating, and takes energy away from collective struggle and solidarity.

At the end of this long process, many claims are rejected. On average, over the past years, 40% of inland refugee claims are refused. Refused refugees face a choice: stay in Canada without papers or be deported to their country of citizenship.

The Canadian refugee system thus works silently and effectively to uphold global apartheid: judge people individually and then, quietly, outside the media spotlight, deport or criminalize them, one by one.

Rejecting Racist Divisions

Mainstream discourse feeds divisions among social groups who could be allied against the unjust global distribution of wealth and power.

At best presenting the issue as humanitarian rather than political, media coverage often hides the role that borders play in maintaining that unequal distribution. The way that Canada has contributed to impoverishing and pushing people out of their homes in the first place is never mentioned.

Far-right groups such as La Meute and Storm Alliance in Quebec are emboldened by the normalization of Islamophobic and racist attitudes. These far right groups have attempted to convince others that migrants crossing irregularly are ‘criminals’ and take ‘Our resources.’ Playing into long-held racist/islamophobic European fears of black and brown men and women, far-right groups across Europe, the US, Canada and Quebec spread confusion and fear about an “invasion” and “terrorists” and encourage the state to expand border enforcement and the policing of migrants.

Instead of the conflict being defined by a division between wealthy/powerful and poor/oppressed both inside and outside Quebec and Canada, it is largely defined by a division between (white) people inside Quebec or Canada and people outside/newly arriving.

Call to Action!

WE SUPPORT THE FREEDOM OF ALL MIGRANTS TO STAY, TO MOVE, TO RETURN. SPECIFICALLY, WE SUPPORT MIGRANTS IN THE UNITED STATES WHETHER THEY CHOSE TO FIGHT TO STAY IN THE USA OR TO CROSS ANY WAY THEY CAN INTO CANADA.

IN THE FACE OF THE CASE-BY-CASE APPROACH IMPOSED BY THE STATE, WE MUST TAKE COLLECTIVE ACTION AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER.

AS WE OPPOSE ANTI-MIGRANT PROPAGANDA AND THESE FABRICATED DIVISIONS, LET’S BUILD CONCRETE SOLIDARITY.

Actions We Can Take in Our Communities

Across Quebec and Canada:

– SAB is calling for a Week of Action 20 to 27 May 2019 to challenge the dangerous and unjust Safe Third Country agreement (with public campaigns, forums, in media, etc.)

– Organize/join mobilizations demanding that Canada ditch its case-by-case approach and implement an immediate regularization programme for all border crossers AND all undocumented people already in Canada;

In border areas:

– get organized with your neighbours (on both sides of the border); put up signs showing that you support people crossing (“refugees welcome”, etc.); if you see people crossing, offer them support in the way they want it and DON’T! call the RCMP unless the people crossing ask you to;

– Explore areas along the border and help set up the infrastructure to support people to cross safely and freely.

In Montreal

– Support mobilizing for and come out to the Solidarity City! Status for All! March on 16 June (2:30pm at Nelson Mandela Park in Côte des neiges).

– support mobilizations creating a Solidarity City including campaigns around access to health care, housing, shelters, education, food; join efforts to end all SPVM/CBSA cooperation.

– Service organizations: sign on to our Solidarity City statement here: http://bit.ly/2lFerMi.

– Join the struggle against the construction of a new migrant prison in Laval. More info: http://www.solidarityacrossborders.org/en/new-migrant-prison-being-constructed-in-laval-lets-stop-it; www.stopponslaprison.info

In general, we call for effective, non-hierarchical, and inclusive grassroots organizing, based on mutual aid and radical solidarity, using a diversity of tactics and direct action, to strengthen community resistance to border controls in our cities, fight deportations and detentions, defeat the fascist movement, and actively support anti-colonial struggles and indigenous sovereignty.

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