Press Release: for immediate release
Supporters outraged at CBSA’s presence at Montreal General Hospital to detain and deport a 57 year old woman who recently suffered heart attack
24 July 2013, Montreal – Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) officials arrived at the Montreal General Hospital, attempting to arrest a grandmother, Khurshid Begum Awan. Mrs Awan was ordered deported to Pakistan after her refugee claim was rejected. Removal procedures against her were delayed after Mrs Awan was admitted to the hospital on July 4 and and diagnosed with a small heart attack.
There had been numerous requests to Immigration to take into account her fragile health and chronic heart condition. But in the span of ten days after she was released from the hospital, CBSA agents showed up on two separate occasions at her home to sign a document summoning her to a meeting at 1010 St Antoine for 9am the next day. Since her daughter Tahira works two jobs six to seven days a week, Mrs. Awan’s 15 year old grandson Ali was forced to serve as interpreter. Mrs. Awan was brought twice to meet her agent Valerie Surpris on July 19 and July 23, 2013.
After collapsing at her appointment on July 23, 2013, Mrs. Awan was taken from 1010 St Antoine to Montreal General Hospital, where three personnel of CBSA later arrived in the emergency room. They informed her that she was under arrest, that there would be a CBSA agent present and next to her 24/7 and that upon release from the hospital she would be taken to the detention center in Laval. She was told that they were deporting her this evening (July 24, 2013).
Even after the cardiologist at Montreal General Hospital stated that under Canada’s own guidelines a heart attack victim should not fly for at least six weeks, the remaining refused to leave, persisting that even without a deportation in the near future that Mrs. Awan was still under arrest and would be taken to the center and that her family and lawyer would have to conduct a perfunctory detention review. Finally, through the intervention by the office of Thomas Mulcair, Mrs. Awan’s Member of Parliament to the Immigration ministry and with the cardiologist’s recommendation, CBSA dropped its order of arrest and the deportation slated for today.
« This kind of belligerent, intimidating, and excessive behaviour by CBSA has happened before in hospitals », states Solidarity Across Borders’ member Rosalind Wong. « These agents are able to act with absolute power and impunity, facing no real consequences when they issue baseless and arbitrary arrest warrants and harassment tactics. »
Mrs. Awan is at risk if deported to Pakistan, where her husband has been in hiding since he was deported from Canada in April.
“We strongly denounce the presence of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in health care institutions. We call on healthcare providers and administrators to ensure that people accessing services are safe from state enforcement officials, including border agents and police officers, who prey on marginalized members of our communities. Migrants must be able to access dignified healthcare without the fear of being arrested, detained or deported. That CBSA agents would enter a hospital to threaten Mrs Khurshid Begum Awan with detention and deportation is outrageous.“states the Health Justice Collective, a collective of activists who work in the healthcare profession and organize in opposition to the cuts to refugee health care by the federal government.
Stewart Istvanffy (lawyer): 514-876-9776
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