Immigration officers are unwanted visitors in the Downtown Eastside: By Byron Cruz

bc-reality-mata-130320-copyBeware, beware! Pay your ticket when using the Sky Train or the transit officers will ask you for your name and they will communicate with immigration officers. An undocumented worker was beaten in the head (a hate crime). He was taken unconscious to hospital, and suddenly woke up to realize that beside his bed there were unwanted visitors (two immigration officers).

Oh there was a family with young children, and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers came at night looking for a member of the family.  The poor children were so scared.

Don’t go to the Starbucks Coffee on Powell St. It is always full of CBSA officers, and be careful, the DTES streets are also saturated with them.

I’ve heard stories of migrants who have worked hard and are not paid for months or never paid. The contractor changed phone numbers and threatened the workers.

We are not in Arizona. We are in Vancouver but the hostility against migrant workers is similar. Last week in an Arizona-style raid, 15 to 20 armed CBSA officers and others with cameras arrived in suburban vehicles similar to those used in Latin America by repressive forces to kidnap union leaders.

One of the migrant workers questioned them. They pushed him against the wall, and chased the workers. Oscar ran to hide in a closet. Others ran into different parts of the building, but within minutes they were found by those who do not care about migrants and their families.

Workers were not asked if it was ok to film them. They were given consent forms when they were in detention. They were nervous and basically in a disadvantaged situation and decided to sign those forms.

I wonder what the Workers Compensation Board would say about CBSA officers and their cameramen entering the building without wearing protective equipment. Workers were running in different directions risking their lives.

What will happen now with the salaries owed to many workers? The contractors are asking the workers to sign waivers.

Toronto is a Sanctuary City, Vancouver will be a Sanctuary City.

 

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