OINT STATEMENT We Repeat, Borders Kill, CBSA Negligence Kills: We denounce the death of migrants detained at the Detention Center in Surrey, BC, and at Roxham Road

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  • Friday January 6th, 2023

    We are, once again, infuriated and saddened to learn of the death of two migrants within a period of two
    weeks.

    The death on Christmas Day of a person detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the
    Surrey’s CBSA detention center in British Columbia was
    announced on December 27 by CBSA. On
    January 5, Sûreté du Québec confirmed they found the dead body of a man near Roxham Road, an
    irregular crossing of migrants between the USA and Canada.

    We deplore the death of the migrant man near Roxham Road and hold the Canadian government
    responsible and accountable for it. While we do not know the cause of the death, we can say with
    certainty that no one should have to die alone trying to cross the border at great personal stress, danger,
    and grave expense. Every person has the right to migrate, the right to resist forced displacement, and the
    right to return to their country of origin if they so choose.

    Let us recall that it is the Safe Third Country Agreement that forces people to choose riskier ways to cross
    the border. The STCA is an agreement between Canada and the United States that has been in place since
    2004 and states that the United States and Canada designate the other country as a safe country for
    refugees and close the door to most refugee claimants at the USCanada border. This agreement has been
    widely criticized by many organizations and by migrants and refugees themselves, particularly because it
    undermines the right of anyone fleeing persecution to seek asylum. Under this agreement, migrants and
    refugees who make asylum claims at official border crossings in Canada not meeting the criteria are
    automatically removed to the United States without due process. As a result, many migrants and refugees
    resign themselves to crossing the USCanada border through socalled “irregular” ports of entry,
    including Roxham Road, sometimes at great risk to their lives as seen in this case.

    As for the death of the person detained by CBSA, their statement mentioned that the next of kin of the
    deceased migrant were contacted, but gave no information concerning the name, age, gender, country of
    origin, let alone the reason or duration of their detention. The information on the circumstances under
    which the person died in the detention center as to why they could not get the person to a hospital in
    time to save their life was also withheld. As usual, CBSA claims to do so “due to privacy
    consideration” (source: CBSA statement).

    The death of this migrant in the Surrey BC prison echoes that of another person detained in Laval QC in
    January 2022. The CBSA similarly shared no details, particularly of the circumstances of the person’s
    death, and insisted that no information would be released as an “investigation is ongoing”. Almost a year
    later, there have been no updates. It is now becoming more and more clear that the CBSA means only to
    obscure the extraordinary violence of their detention regime and ensure that they are never accountable
    for the deaths in their custody, as they attempt to outwait the public scrutiny.

    The person in Surrey, BC who was under CBSA custody died in the newly built immigration detention
    center. Ironically, in Montreal, groups have been protesting the newly built migrant prison the socalled
    detention center, that is marketed as a more comfortable place for those detained. A prison is a prison
    whether there is a yard inside or not. These facilities are inhumane and the treatment of people detained
    therein remains harsh and as we saw, at times, lethal. Millions of dollars spent in new facilities does not
    replace freedom. No imprisonment provides justice or dignity.

    We
    repeat: Borders Kill, CBSA Negligence Kills. No migrant, no human being, should have to suffer
    such inhumane treatment. We will fight until every person is free.
    The way CBSA handles the detention and the medical care of people detained makes it clear how they
    dehumanize people while in detention and also in their death. This treatment of people detained is evident
    from the number of deaths of people while under CBSA custody; over the past twenty years, at least
    17
    people
    have died in detention:
    Bolante Idowu Alo
    Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan
    Fransisco Javier Roméro Astorga
    Melkioro Gahung
    Jan Szamko
    Lucia Vega Jimenez
    Joseph Fernandes
    Kevon O’BrienPhillip
    Unidentified man
    Shawn Dwight Cole
    Unidentified man
    Joseph Dunn
    Unidentified person
    Sheik Kudrath
    Maxamillion Akamai
    Unidentified person
    Unidentified person

    “As long as the CBSA continues to detain migrants, deaths in detention will continue,” said a joint
    statement issued by
    migrant justice organizations based in BC.
    We, the undersigned groups, stand in solidarity with the family of the person killed and with the
    groups in BC on the frontlines fighting this injustice.

    Let us recall that detention is an inherent part of the repressive matrix of the Canadian immigration
    system. It’s a tool of the Canadian imperialist state that ignores any responsibility towards the people who
    are migrating for a better life, seeking to leave situations of poverty, exploitation and violence, where the
    Canadian state and companies are often complicit in creating these very conditions.

    The aim of the detention apparatus of the State is to deter people from entering fortress Canada. This
    oppresses migrants and forces them to live in the margins, isolated and underground, constantly fearing
    arrest and imprisonment. The practice of putting migrants in prison promotes exploitation where the
    vulnerable people resort to working and living in abusive and unsafe conditions without recourse or
    protection.

    We denounce the deaths of migrants at the Roxham Road and in the detention center in Surrey, BC and
    demand that this violence and impunity of CBSA ends. Not one more death.

    We demand open borders, no Safe Third Country Agreement, and the free movement of people seeking
    justice and dignity. That is, freedom to move, freedom to return, and freedom to stay.

    Stop the detentions, stop the deportations! We demand a comprehensive, ongoing regularization program
    without any exceptions and discriminations!

    Endorsed by:

    Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) | Carranza LLP | Migrant Workers
    Alliance for Change | Migrante Canada | Migrante BC | No One Is Illegal Toronto | Parkdale
    Community Legal Services | RAMA Okanagan | RAMA Isla | Sanctuary Health | Sanctuar

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