Mexican journalist Karla Ramírez wins battle against deportation
“Mexicans will continue coming here to ask for asylum. I think we have an obligation to keep denouncing (corruption).”
Last Wednesday, No One Is Illegal groups across Canada took action as part of a campaign to oppose Bill C-31, which has come under fire for clauses of automatic detention for asylum-seekers deemed “irregular” by Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney. Activists occupied immigration offices in Vancouver for several hours, while Ottawa, Toronto, St. Catherines, and Edmonton saw NOII members take over Conservative MP officers and drop banners in Halifax and Montreal.
Tensions between the migrant justice group and the government came to a head last week when Kenney lambasted New Democratic Party immigration critic Don Davies, who is the MP for Vancouver-Kingsway, for attending an anti-racism rally organized by NOII and posting a photograph online.
On March 26 in Parliament, Kenney criticized Davies, alleging the latter's “endorsement” of NOII, “an anarchist organization that supports Black Bloc violent anarchist tactics and opposes any limits on immigration, including the deportation of criminals.”
For NOII, this is evidence of both hardening attacks on dissent, but also increasing success in mobilizing the public around immigration and refugee issues.
“That type of cheap political slander is really part of the Tory arsenal,” Walia said. “Tories in general have attacked social and environmental justice movements with the label 'extremist.'
opposing the Enbridge pipeline. The attack on No One Is Illegal is
representative of the power of migrant justice movements. No One Is
Illegal has radical ideas, but the movement is not as marginal as the
Tories would like to portray. Opposition to Bill C-31 isn't fringe either.
There's such wide opposition to it and the Conservatives are trying to
undermine that widespread opposition by using cheap political attacks."
The omnibus refugee bill is particularly troubling because it simply repackages previous Conservative proposals which had faced significant opposition, Davies said, and undermines the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“My main concern is that there is automatic detention without review,” Davies told the Vancouver Observer in an earlier interview. “That's the most shocking and illegal part of it.
“It's illegal because governments, when they pass legislation, are subject to the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms). When a government tries to pass a law that says there will be mandatory detention without review for a period of time . . . you can't do that. It goes right back to habeus corpus – it's established right in our Charter of Rights. You can't have arbitrary detention.”
When asked earlier for comment, the Immigration and Refugee Board said it could not comment on specific cases. But last month, Mexican legislators ramped up legal protection for journalists in the context of widespread threats for reporting on corruption, organized crime, or the deadly war on drugs.
Ramírez was granted her exceptional status based on evidence of continued threats against her, No One Is Illegal said.
“She was found to have established herself in Canada, and that she was at risk if she were sent back to Mexico,” Walia said. “In a Humanitarian and Compassionate claim, they tend to look for new grounds for risk – either changed country conditions, or that her going public increased her risk if she were deported. Both were the case here.”
Now, Ramírez wants to find ways to thank those who helped her stay in Canada.
“Retribuir – I can't find the right word to say that in English, but I'd like to reward people and the community,” she said. “I looked it up in the dictionary: it said 'to reward,' which sounds financial, like paying back.
“But it's about returning something that we received. I still want to volunteer. I love all the fights for human rights and the environment – that's become a passion of mine.”