June 2, 2014: Over 100 immigrants started a historical month-long boycott of their detention reviews this morning, insisting the process is biased, unfair and stacked against them. The boycott was coordinated between detainees caged in three separate maximum security prisons across Ontario – the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene and Toronto’s Metro West Detention Centre.
Detention Reviews (DR) are the primary means through which border authorities insist that the entire immigration system is fair. They are a unique bail-like process that takes places 48 hours, 7 days, and then every 30 days after arrest. Detainees plead their case in front of an appointed ‘member’ who single-handedly decides on their release or terms and conditions. By refusing to participate, detainees are courageously insisting that the very fabric of the immigration detention system is unjust.
“Every time I go there it’s like they have already made up their minds before we even start the session. It doesn’t matter what I say, I am there only for a few minutes before they state that I a flight risk and to come back in 30 days. I’ve been in front of them 12 times and nothing is changing and I am tired of it.” — A.K., jailed at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.
“They pretend like I just came from the airport yesterday but I’ve been in this country for 23 years and that’s not right to treat someone like that. I don’t have a country to go back to, and I grew up here and they’re holding me because I don’t have any money to get out.” — S.M., jailed at Central East Correctional Centre.
This action is part of the ongoing #MigrantStrike that started in September 2013, when 191 detainees began a non-cooperation protest. They went on hunger strike, 2 of them for over 60 days, boycotted their detention reviews, and refused to enter their cells. In retaliation, immigration enforcement has deported some key strike organizers, released a few, moved others into prisons across Ontario, and locked up hunger strikers in segregation. Yet, strike actions are continuing.