Canada is deporting its ‘guardian angels’


In 2017, in response to then-United States President Donald Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban”, Canadian President Justin Trudeau tweeted: “To these fleeing persecution, terror & struggle, Canadians will welcome you, no matter your religion. Range is our power #WelcomeToCanada.” 4 years on, many internationally proceed to imagine Trudeau’s assertion that his nation’s doorways are open to refugees.

The fact on the bottom, nonetheless, may be very totally different. Whereas routinely being praised for its extraordinary generosity in direction of refugees, Trudeau’s Canada is deporting asylum seekers en masse, amid a lethal pandemic.

In response to the newest knowledge revealed by the Canada Border Providers Company (CBSA), Trudeau’s authorities deported some 12,122 individuals in 2020. This was the best variety of deportations in a yr since 2015, when Stephen Harper’s Conservative authorities was in energy. Hundreds extra face the chance of being forcefully faraway from the nation earlier than the top of 2021.

Many asylum seekers presently dealing with the specter of deportation have served as important front-line staff in Canada throughout probably the most troublesome and lethal months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mamadou Konaté, who fled his dwelling nation of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) within the aftermath of its bloody civil struggle and arrived in Canada as an asylum seeker in 2016, is considered one of them.

In 2020, on the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Konaté labored as a janitor in three totally different long-term care houses (CHSLDs) in Montreal, Quebec. On the time, like most care houses in Canada, these amenities have been devastated by the pandemic and have been in determined want of important staff. Konaté tended to and cleaned the rooms of COVID-positive sufferers and contracted the virus whereas doing so. He shortly returned to work after surviving the sickness.

Regardless of his service, nonetheless, he’s now dealing with deportation as quickly because the Canadian authorities arranges for Konaté’s journey paperwork for Ivory Coast to be issued.

“After years of working on this nation, together with many, many others, contributing rather a lot, paying taxes, working in troublesome jobs, throughout this pandemic, now the federal government goes to take away us? Now the Canadian authorities is planning to deport us? That is injustice,” Konaté advised a crowd gathered in entrance of Prime Minister Trudeau’s constituency workplace in Montreal on July 6 to protest deportations.

“Throughout the pandemic,” Konaté mentioned “many key jobs have been carried out by immigrants, by refugees. I’m a type of individuals, who stepped up, now, I face removing. I labored exhausting within the CHSLDs, cleansing many occasions, even on the evening shift. At the moment, it’s exhausting for individuals to know, to know, the ache that we’re going by means of, whereas dealing with deportation from Canada, after working in important posts throughout this pandemic.”

Konaté’s case is just one of many who illustrate the ever-widening hole between the liberal Trudeau authorities’s rhetoric of “embracing refugees” and the truth on the bottom.

Abandoning the ‘guardian angels’

Because the starting of the pandemic, Canadian politicians from throughout the political spectrum have been publicly celebrating important staff, particularly these working in healthcare settings.

For instance, in April 2020, Quebec’s Premier François Legault, of the conservative Coalition Avenir Québec, described important staff on the COVID-19 entrance strains – together with asylum seekers – as “guardian angels” and voiced his authorities’s help for them.

A couple of months later, in December 2020, his authorities particularly acknowledged the contributions asylum seekers have made to the pandemic effort, and initiated the “guardian angel” programme ostensibly to offer important staff with precarious immigration standing a direct path to everlasting residency.

On the floor, the programme (accompanied by the same Ottawa-led initiative for important staff outdoors Quebec) appeared to offer additional proof that Canada is a refugee-friendly nation. However in actuality, it was yet one more demonstration of the hypocrisy of Canada’s leaders.

The so-called “guardian angel” programme, restricted in scope to some important staff within the healthcare sector who offered direct care to sufferers, left asylum seekers who laboured as front-line staff in different sectors, reminiscent of meals packing and supply, out within the chilly. Furthermore, it excludes many others, like Konaté, who labored as janitors, cooks or safety guards in healthcare amenities.

The restrictions of this programme present not solely that Canada isn’t as welcoming of refugees as Trudeau likes us to imagine, but additionally that the selective nature of the nation’s immigration insurance policies has modified little or no for the reason that British colonial period.

Within the early twentieth century, exclusionist and white supremacist immigration insurance policies led Canada to show away numerous 1000’s of immigrants from internationally who endured lengthy and arduous journeys to succeed in the nation’s shores. Since then, Canada has made itself a reputation as a liberal protected haven for refugees. However as ongoing mass deportations and the state’s refusal to offer everlasting residency to all asylum seekers who served as important staff illustrates, Canada’s immigration insurance policies are nonetheless neither simply nor inclusive.

Furthermore, as Trudeau continues along with his rhetoric of welcoming all these fleeing persecution, terror and struggle, Canada is quickly militarising its borders. The 2019 federal funds, for instance, promised a technique costing 1.18 billion Canadian {dollars} ($940m) over 5 years to beef up border safety and to detect, intercept and take away migrants.

At the moment, Trudeau continues to behave as if Canada’s doorways are open to refugees and the nation is dedicated to defending these in want. This, nonetheless, can’t be farther from the reality. The nation is definitely permitting solely a choose few, who meet particular standards, to settle inside its borders, and shamelessly deporting many, like Konaté, who risked their lives to maintain the nation operating on the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, no – all these “fleeing persecution, terror and struggle” should not welcome in Canada. And Trudeau ought to cease pretending they’re.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.