Target: John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Goal: End the practice of indefinitely detaining undocumented immigrants.
Every year, Canadian border agents detain over 10,000 immigrants, including almost 1000 children, transferring them into detention centers, prisons, and jails. While over a third face no charges, their terms of detention are indefinite. Those detained are routinely denied access to legal representation, adequate medical care, claims of refugee status are frequently ignored, and those detained are often coerced into signing their own deportation papers.
One woman was denied medical care for a full six days after she suffered a miscarriage, with medical staff claiming she was not pregnant. Another detainee, a woman of Mexican origin, committed suicide after the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) ignored her warnings that she would be tortured and killed if she returned to Mexico. There are multiple cases of children being detained, and at least one child has been born in custody — living the first 16 months of his life in jail.
Between 2006 and 2014, over 87,000 people entered this system, with those detained serving a collective sentence of 503 years. Since 2000, 13 people have died in the custody of this system, though it is often impossible to tell who those people were because Canadian authorities often withhold identifying information, and have previously closed investigations without reporting a cause of death. Sign our petition and demand an end to the indefinite detention of immigrants in Canada.
Dear Minister McCallum,
Canada has long touted itself as a moderate, tolerant, and accepting country that respects human rights. The system of indefinite detention of immigrants, many of whom face no charges, is a gross violation of these principles. Furthermore, the extent to which this system permits the CBSA to cover up deaths in custody is morally repugnant. This system costs the Canadian taxpayer billions of dollars without providing a commensurate benefit.
Given the reports of the CBSA ignoring claims of refugee status, as well as reports of intimidation tactics used to coerce detainees into signing their own deportation notices, this system is also a violation of Canada’s commitment to the rights of refugees under international law.
Currently, 50 people are on hunger strike at the Central East Correctional Facility, demanding to be treated as human beings. There is no objective that can validate a system that leaves people with no option but to starve themselves for basic respect. I urge you to end this system of indefinite detention.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Derek Key