Community Alert

Excerpt from Community Alert: Montreal is not a Sanctuary City, by Solidarity Across Borders, published in At the Heart of the Resistance 2018

Solidarity Across Borders issued this Community Advisory in order to correct the misleading public information concerning the passing of Montréal’s symbolic “Sanctuary City” Declaration on February 20, 2017.

Since Montréal adopted the “Declaration Designating Montréal a
Sanctuary City,” we have been contacted by many non-status migrants and their supporters. Some individuals believe they will now be safe on the streets of Montréal or even that they can present themselves to immigrations authorities to regularize their status, while others hope to be able to access essential services such as health care, education, work, and
housing. In general, the declaration has raised questions, hopes, and
expectations of many undocumented migrants.

However, the idea that City of Montréal has taken substantial measures to become a real sanctuary city is false. The “Declaration Designating Montréal a Sanctuary City” does not give undocumented people access to, for example: secure jobs with dignity, healthcare, education for children and adults, driver’s licenses, bank accounts [this is not an exhaustive list]

The City of Montréal should demand access to all of these things for undocumented migrants, but the legal power to change this belongs to the Québec and Canadian governments. In addition to accessing essential services, a “sanctuary city” means being able to go about daily life in Montréal without fear of being handed over to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) as a result of a causal interaction with police or metro agents.

The “Declaration Designating Montréal a Sanctuary City” does NOT stop the Montréal Police (SPVM) or metro agents from handing undocumented people over to CBSA. Every week, the SPVM arrests undocumented people for small interactions or demands ID in situations of racial profiling, discovers that they have stayed past a deportation order, and hands them over to CBSA for detention and deportation. The City of Montréal’s declaration will not change this.

Because this reality has not changed, we remind undocumented people to prepare for interactions with SPVM in a way that can help keep you safer. Preparing in advance could help keep you calm and secure.

The Mayor and city councillors should stop claiming Montreal is a “sanctuary” to refugees and migrants. To make this claim without tangible
measures in place to meaningfully protect all migrants, refugees and
undocumented people is both confusing and grossly irresponsible.