Mon­treal be­comes a sanc­tu­ary city

But mi­grant rights’ groups call coun­cil’s mo­tion sym­bolic, even coun­ter­pro­duc­tive

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

MON­TREAL — Mon­treal city coun­cil passed a mo­tion on Mon­day mak­ing it the lat­est Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tion to de­clare it­self a “sanc­tu­ary city.”

The des­ig­na­tion means un­doc­u­mented refugees will have full ac­cess to lo­cal ser­vices re­gard­less of their sta­tus, with the city fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Toronto, Hamil­ton and Lon­don, Ont.

Mi­grant rights’ groups called the mea­sure a largely sym­bolic ges­ture as Mon­treal joins other North Amer­i­can places such as San Fran­cisco and Chicago as des­ig­nated sanc­tu­ary cities.

Toronto be­came Canada’s first in 2013.

A num­ber of groups told a news con­fer­ence a few hours be­fore the mo­tion passed that while the ges­ture would be in good faith, it would not pro­vide the tan­gi­ble changes to make Mon­treal truly a sanc­tu­ary city and a safer place to be.

“The mo­tion that the City of Mon­treal is putting for­ward to­day is limited, it’s sym­bolic, it’s not cre­at­ing a real sanc­tu­ary city,” said Jaggi Singh, a spokesper­son for Sol­i­dar­ity Across Bor­ders.

Singh said the city should at least en­sure that Mon­treal po­lice and tran­sit of­fi­cials not col­lab­o­rate with Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency.

As it stands, the mo­tion pro­vides for that is­sue to be dis­cussed at a later date.

Singh said there are count­less in­stances where an ar­rest on a mi­nor in­frac­tion can lead to de­por­ta­tion.

“The City of Mon­treal doesn’t have the di­rect author­ity over health or ed­u­ca­tion or work or hous­ing — the kinds of pre­oc­cu­pa­tions ev­ery­body has when we want to build our lives,” said Singh.

But it does have say over the po­lice, he added.

“Hon­estly, in many ways, hav­ing a sym­bolic mo­tion can be worse than hav­ing no mo­tion at all,” said Singh.

“What it does is cre­ates a false sense of se­cu­rity and false sense of pro­tec­tion and the mo­ment where the po­lice are de­port­ing peo­ple, you de­stroy any sense of trust.”

Singh said the city should call the mea­sure what it is — a prom­ise to study the is­sue.

“He’s com­ing from a good place, I’m not go­ing to deny that,” he said of Mon­treal Mayor De­nis Coderre. “But it doesn’t go far enough.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.