Toronto & Ontario area Detention Centre Research

this is in memory of Michael Akhimien, a Nigerian asylum seeker who died in solitary confinement 9 years ago this week. he was in custody at the detention centre (in a converted motel) near the airport, about 15 minutes from where i live.

i've got a lot of stuff here, so i'll start with the basics, and then if you are interested, you can read on down.

here is the outline of this email:

-the list of detention centres (first the main ones that we *know* hold refugees, then later on, i've attached the full listing from Corrections Canada)
-the list of groups who work on migrant defense issues
-the list of profiteering corps

-1996 notes on canada's detention policies, incl. the old infamous "Celebrity Inn", and notes on Mr. Akhimien's death

-full Corrections Canada address listings

- gov't notes on DETAINEE ISSUES (from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, regarding Refugee legal aid and detention centre processes)

- notes on Metro West Detention Centre (also near airport, and the '96 hunger strike there)

- callout from a Marxist Leninist paper in 2002 re: an action against Metro West, we did this in solidarity with another hunger strike there.)

- notes from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials (recent, their focus is on the illegal detentions of Arab men, in secret, without appeals, since Sept. 11th)

- the March 2004 OCAP call out for a demo against the construction of the Heritage Inn (a bigger jail, for all the more families which CIC is grabbing off the planes and marching over there. It replaced the Celebrity Inn in April.)

- notes on the very exciting art project that No One Is Illegal activists are doing at the Heritage Inn (formerly the Celebrity Inn) with mostly women and children detainees

- info on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Campaign

------ here goes: -------------------------


Heritage Inn (Toronto Immigrant Holding Centre) at 385 Rexdale Blvd. (near
the airport). a new, larger detention centre which opened in April and
replaced the old 'Celebrity Inn'... same old shit tho, with men, women and
children behind razor wire, locked up, poor conditions, endless waiting.

Toronto West Detention Centre
631 beds (it's huge, and 1/4 of this place are migrants!)
111 Disco Rd. Box 4950 Rexdale, Ont. M9W 5L6
416-675-1806 Fax: 416-674-7515

Groups in Toronto working on status and detention centre issues..

ACTIVIST (not a very thorough listing!!! needs additions)
No One Is Illegal
Anti-Racist Action
Heads Up Collective (not sure if they're still active.)

-Metro Toronto Chinese and South-east Asian Legal Clinic
-Justice for Children and Youth Legal Clinic
-STATUS Campaign of OCASI (Ontario Coalition of Agencies Serving
-Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
-Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Centre
-INTERCEDE for the Rights of Domestic Workers, Caregivers and Newcomers
(CIC funded)
-Migrante Women's Collective (also a Filipina women workers collective but
w/o CIC funding)
-Migrant Sex Workers Advocacy Group

- Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- a campaign to get all municipal employees
(incl. Police) to refrain from asking any questions about a person's
status, so that people without papers can better access services, without
fear of Immigration Canada finding out where they are.

-Campaign to Stop Secret Trials -- Under the CSIS (Canadian Security
Intelligence Service) Certificate, Canada's spy agency has largely Muslim
men or men of Middle Eastern or Arabic background thrown behind bars,
without charges or bail, threatened with deportation to a country where
they face torture or execution. Neither they nor their lawyers are allowed
to see the "evidence" against them under the blanket claim of "national
security." There is no appeal of the Federal Court ruling delivered by a
CSIS-approved judge. The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials organizes court
support, engages in research and political action and tries to provide
support for the families of Canada's "disappeared." The campaign is rooted
in anti-racist principles, and explicitly condemns Islamophobia,
anti-semitism, and all related forms of religious and political
PROFITEERING CORPS (remember, most of Canada's prisons are still "public",
but there is a lot of outsourcing, especially around transport of
prisoners and so on which is creeping into the system.)

-Metropol private security firm (with the Pearson international airport,
and the nearby Missisauga Immigration Detention Centre, aka. Heritage
Inn, they do transport, and initial holding mostly)

- Management & Training Corporation -- this is a Utah, US-based company
which runs one of Mike Harris' new "superprisons", the Central North
Correctional Centre near Penetanguishene. It is vying for a UK contract,
also runs prisons in Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, and of course, the US,
where it is a key player in the private prison industry, with 9.2% of the
market in 2003 at 10,927 beds.) In Ontario, the staff of the prison did
vote to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. According to the
Prison Privatisation Report International, MTC admits to being constantly
in breach of their $34.16 million contract with the government, and many
of the breaches have threatened the safety and health of inmates, one of
whom died last year of blood poisoning and delays in getting him into a
hospital. Although I'm not entirely sure how many immigrants and refugees
end up at Central North, the MTC has a nasty enough reputation... John
Ashcroft, the US attorney general, put MTC director Lane McCotter in
charge of reopening Iraq's prison system. McCotter helped to rebuild Abu
Ghraib and trained Iraqi citizens to work in prisons. (more info at: You should type in
his name on google and see all the shit that corp. has done. but back to
our story on local detention centres....

From: Anti-Colonial Action Alliance, Sept. 1996

According to a prisoner at a federal correctional facility in Ontario,
"the over-zealous attitude of the Immigration Department's removal section
detains inmates for an indefinite amount of time before carrying out the
deportation order. This is called, a 'deportation hold'. This prevents all
immigrants from being processed through the correctional system to minimum
security facilities. All day paroles, and full paroles are being denied.
They are eligible, but are not considered for any accelerated release,
work related plans, or escorted or unescorted temporary passes. They are
not even considered for release to any halfway houses. The only way they
can be released is to file for parole with deportation when they are
deported to their foreign homeland." As a result many immigrants who have
completed their sentence are arbitrarily detained until they are deported.
Refugees and immigrants can be arrested or detained without a criminal
charge and held indefinitely for any reason or no reason, anytime and
anywhere once they arrive in Canada until they are granted citizenship. In
an article written in Refugee Update (winter, 1994) by Chris Boles it
states "Cases of Detention appear to be increasing. In 1991/2 there were
almost 6800 cases of detention throughout Canada. In 1992/3 that figure
had increased to a total of 7796 detainees, almost 5000 of them in
Ontario." There were no figures available for later years but refugee
advocates suggest strongly that the numbers of detainees has continued to

In the majority of these cases, the people have no criminal record and are
not a threat to Canada or Canadians. Refugees and immigrants are being
arbitrarily detained in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights of
Freedoms section 7; "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

On December 18, 1995, Nigerian Mike Akhinen died from medical neglect at
Celebrity Inn, an Immigration Holding Centre outside of Toronto. His death
highlights the situation of many refugees held in detention centres across
Canada. Approximately one quarter of the prison population at the Metro
Toronto West Detention Centre, a maximum security prison, are immigrants
and refugees placed under a deportation hold, held without a criminal

From Amnesty International.s 1997 Report on Canada:
Michael Akhimen, an asylum-seeker from Nigeria held in detention in the
Celebrity Inn Immigration Holding Center in Toronto, died of diabetic
ketoacidosis after receiving inadequate medical attention in December
1995. A coroner's inquiry made recommendations to prevent future
unnecessary deaths of asylum-seekers in similar circumstances. The
recommendations are currently being considered by the Department of
Citizenship and Immigration.

From his family.s court case vs. the State:
Mr. Akhimien was arrested on 28 October 1995, after having filed an
application for asylum in Canada. He was held at the Canadian Immigration
Detention Centre of Niagara Falls until 30 October 1995 when he was
transferred to the Canadian Immigration Holding Centre Celebrity Inn in
Mississauga, Ontario. Mr. Akhimien remained at the Celebrity Inn until his
death, caused by pneumonia and/or untreated diabetes, on 17 December 1995.
On 6 December 1995, Mr. Akhimien first complained to other detainees at
the Celebrity Inn that he was experiencing health problems, including
blurred vision. Subsequent to a new request to see the medical doctor on
13 December, Mr. Akhimien was put in solitary confinement. Counsel states
that he was put in solitary confinement because he was perceived to be a
troublemaker, constantly complaining about living conditions in the
Celebrity Inn. Mr. Akhimien remained in solitary confinement until his

From The Nigerian Canadian Association v. Dr. Trevor Gilmore (a coroner)

This case involves Nigerian refugee claimant Michael Akhimien, who died of
diabetes related keto-acidosis while on detention at the Canada
Immigration holding centre at the Celebrity Inn in Mississauga. Prior to
his death Mr. Akhimien made repeated requests to the Immigration officials
at the holding centre to be seen by a doctor. Despite these requests Mr.
Akhimien was not given any medical treatment while in custody. Mr.
Akhimien was disciplined by a guard for going to get a glass of water
without the guard's permission. A symptom of Mr. Akhimien's medical
condition was that he was always very thirsty. The punishment for this
act was that he was thrown into solitary confinement where he died soon
after in his cell. A Coroner's Inquest was held in which the Nigerian
Canadian Association, which represented Mr. Akhimien's family, was denied
the opportunity of calling several witnesses who could testify about Mr.
Akhimien's condition prior to his death. The ACLC assumed the task of
representing the Nigerian Canadian Association in the Judicial Review of
the actions of the Coroner with the aim of achieving broad guidelines with
respect to the conduct of Coroner's Inquests. The transcripts of the
Coroner's Inquest in this case have been completed and forwarded and the
ACLC is currently drafting the legal documents to be submitted to court.
A hearing date has not yet been set.

Correctional Services Jurisdiction
In carrying out its correctional services mandate, the Ministry of
Community Safety and Correctional Services has jurisdiction over:
· offenders 18 years of age and over who are:
o sentenced to terms of imprisonment of less than two years, and/or
o terms of probation of up to three years, or
o conditional sentences of up to two years less a day;
· offenders under parole supervision, as granted by the Ontario

Parole and Earned Release Board;
· adults on remand, awaiting trial or sentencing;
· adults held for immigration hearing or deportation;
· offenders awaiting transfer to federal institutions to serve
sentences of two years or more.

The ministry maintains the following facilities:
· 26 jails and detention centres;
· 10 correctional centres (9 publicly operated and 1 privately
· 2 correctional complexes; and
· 125 probation and parole offices.

Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre 450 beds 711 Exeter Rd.
London, Ont.
N6E 1L3 519-686-1922
Fax: 519-686-0352
Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre --114 beds 165 Barton St. E.
Hamilton, Ont.
L8L 2W6 905-523-8800
Fax: 905-529-0977

Niagara Detention Centre -- 260 beds Hwy 58 1355 Uppers Lane
Box 1050
Thorold, Ont.
L2V 4A6 905-227-6321
Fax: 905-227-0032

Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre 326 beds 2244 Innes Rd.
Ottawa, Ont.
K1B 4C4 613-824-6080
Fax: 613-824-1297

Quinte Detention Centre 228 beds 89 Richmond Blvd.
Napanee, Ont.
K7R 3S1 613-354-9701
Fax: 613-354-1209

Toronto East Detention Centre 473 beds 55 Civic Rd.
Scarborough, Ont.
M1L 2K9 416-750-3513
Fax: 416-750-3345

Toronto West Detention Centre 631 beds 111 Disco Rd.
Box 4950
Rexdale, Ont.
M9W 5L6 416-675-1806
Fax: 416-674-7515

DETAINEE ISSUES (from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General,
regarding Refugee legal aid and detention centre processes)

At any given time, a number of immigrants and refugee claimants are
currently detained at the Celebrity Inn in Toronto, Metro West Detention
Centre in Toronto, and elsewhere in the province. Some are brought into
detention directly from the Port of Entry on suspicion that their identity
documents are fraudulent. Some of these persons are refugee claimants;
others are persons who say they are visitors or students, but are
disbelieved. Other people are detained out of suspicion that they will try
to enter the United States illegally through Canada, or are suspected of
criminality. Another class of detainees have been picked up in Canada.

These include persons with failed or abandoned refugee claims, visitors
and students who have overstayed their visas, potential refugee claimants
who entered illegally and went underground, and refugee claimants or
permanent residents who committed criminal offences in Canada and are
subject to deportation as a result. Certificates are rarely, if ever,
granted for detention reviews. Community legal workers, law students, and
on occasion, private lawyers have furnished advice and representation, but
the arrangements are patchwork and unsatisfactory in relation to actual
representation at detention reviews.

A serious and unaddressed need exists with respect to legal representation
for detainees. Clearly, not all people in detention would qualify for
legal representation in respect of the immigration process to which they
are subject, such as deportation for overstaying a visa. On the other
hand, even summary advice in such cases can enable detainees to make
informed choices about their options, including a decision to return to
their country of origin rather than remain in detention with little
prospect of success on the merits of the case. As for detained refugee
claimants, those who are released could enter the general pool of
claimants who apply for legal aid.

There appears to be a consensus that whoever provides representation to
detainees, it ought to be a designated person or persons who do so on a
consistent and regular basis. This is critical for purposes of
establishing familiarity and competence in dealing with the institutions
and the staff who run them. Whether this service is provided by counsel
from a community legal clinic, or from the Refugee Law Office (RLO), or by
duty counsel, is less critical than simply ensuring that the service is

Some random activist notes on Metro West and the hunger strike in 1996
(there was another one in 2002, I believe)
(from 1996/1997).

An estimated 100-125 refugee claimants and others being detained on
immigration matters at the Metro Toronto West Detention Centre (MTWDC)
went on a hunger strike for a week in July. Other prisoners, those
awaiting trial on criminal offences, joined in the protest, because of the
overcrowding and forced transfers Canada's Immigration detention policy is
creating. The refugees, who alone account for 20% of the Metro West's
adult male prisoner population and others facing deportation were hoping
that the strike would bring local and international attention to the
following concerns:

1. Indefinite detention
2. Poor living conditions
3. Lack of access to community resources and legal services
4. Arbitrary deportations
5. Human rights abuses & brutality by staff
6. Racism and discrimination

Many of those awaiting deportation are kept languishing in jail for 2-3
years at a time (more time than some federal sentences), with many never
even being accused of committing any criminal offences in Canada and many
others never seeing any more of Canada than the inside of a jail cell.
Many were previously detained at the Celebrity Inn, a private detention
centre run by Immigration Canada and Metropol private security firm, which
was built to hold some 80 inmates but which usually ends up holding more
like 150. A large number have refuted their refugee claims, preferring to
face potentially deadly fates in their home countries than to die of abuse
and neglect in a foreign jail. Such was the case with Michael Akhimen, a
Nigerian man who had been sick with diabetes, who died from medical
neglect and physical abuse at the Celebrity Inn in December 1995, after he
was thrown into solitary confinement with no food and water for more than
one week, after he complained about the lack of medical attention.

The Metro West Detention Centre is one of the only Toronto area jails
without a Streetlink centre, making it especially difficult for prisoners
to get in contact with legal clinics, community organisations, and other
agencies that provide services to refugees. Since the provincial cutbacks
to legal aid, access is severely limited for everyone, doubly so for
people who are not recognised as Canadian citizens.
All prisoners at the MTWDC are double and triple-bunked in single person
cells, further adding to an already tense situation where people have zero
personal space or privacy. In a setting where health care is virtually
non-existent, this makes people extremely vulnerable to illness and

The criteria on which they are kept in detention is extremely arbitrary,
the most commonly cited pretence being that immigration thinks it has
reason to believe a person won't show up to their hearing, with
alternative arrangements for supervision very rarely being tried. People
with claims in more than one country are frequently detained, with no
consideration paid to the fact that many of the refugees - the majority of
whom are continental Africans - went to Europe first, where many
encountered neo-nazi violence and racist immigration policies identical to
Canada's, where many found themselves detained under identical

Improper travel documents are another commonly used justification, an
especially frustrating situation for Africans from nations such as Rwanda,
Liberia, or Nigeria (which lack either governments or diplomatic relations
with Canada), and Palestinians, who are not allowed to return home because
of the Israeli government's genocidal expulsion policies.

Physical abuse, brutality, and racist insults and provocations from the
mostly white staff is very common, with many people citing an incident
June this year, when Steve Williams, a failed refugee claimant from
Nigeria, was beaten severely both at the jail and at the airport on the
eve of his deportation, and citing attempts by certain guards to
deliberately incite tensions between different ethnic groups when they
don't exist, and exploit them when they do.

The Metro West Detention Brothers are urging the public to get involved in
making their demands and their situation an international issue, to shed
light on Canada's hypocritical and racist policies and practices.
Struggling in obscurity and isolation is no longer an option; as Kashif
Ali, a man from Ghana who has been in detention for the past 28 months has
put it, "I have nothing to lose, I have lost everything already."

From the Marxist-Leninist Daily, 2002.
Detainees are segregated from their families (children being separated
from their parents or parents), denied access to basic sanitation and
medical care and prevented from quick access to legal counsel, among other
things. Immigration hearings to review the cases of those detained are
conducted by video-camera instead of a face-to-face hearings in court, so
that even their basic humanity is violated. All this is being done in
secrecy by the Canadian state, away from the scrutiny of the Canadian
The Heads Up Collective (Colours of Resistance), Anti-Racist Action and
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty are organizing a Rally at the Celebrity
Budget Inn (Airport Road, just north of American Drive) and Toronto West
Detention Centre (111 Disco Road) on Saturday, February 16 as another
action to demand:
No Punitive Segregation!
No Secret Hearings!
Full Disclosure of Information on Post-9/11 Detainees!
Rights and Dignity for Detainees!
Amnesty for Undocumented Migrants!
An End to the Secrecy!
From The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials..
Jackman asks him about a planned superjail for immigration detainees, and
asks whether it will be set up for families too. Dietrich baldly sates,
"CIC [Immigration] does not detain kids," something which would come as a
surprise to the children often detained at the Heritage Inn (formerly
Celebrity Inn), an ill-named prison in which babies and young children are
often interned with their parents.
She is followed by Head of Security at the West, Frank Geswaldo, a
soft-spoken man who details the command structure at the jail and says as
many as 15-20% of the detainees there are immigration holds. He is bemused
that there actually is a range called immigration, given that it is no
different than any other range at the facility. "My question is what's the
difference?" he says. "Cells are cells, a unit is a unit."

From OCAP, March 2004, Demo callout against Heritage Inn construction.

Immigration Canada.s infamous Toronto detention centre, the Celebrity
Inn, is closing down. In its place, a larger jail is set to open on
April 1st. The Heritage Inn, a former hotel on Rexdale Boulevard in the
city.s north-west end, will hold even more (im)migrants and refugees -
people imprisoned because they do not have landed status, because
Immigration Canada does not believe their identities or their stories of
flight and persecution, because the authorities need only have .suspicion.
in order to throw people inside.

On Saturday, March 27th, we are calling on people to converge on the new
prison before it opens. We are living in a time where Immigration
authorities are moving faster and harder to arrest, jail and deport
(im)migrants and refugees - peoples. lives, their homes, their families
are being destroyed. People are hunted down in their apartments, at
their workplaces, stopped in cars and on the streets by cops and
enforcement authorities who work together to carry out policies that try
to ensure many people are denied the chance to get landed status in this
country. The Canadian state has imposed laws designed to welcome select
people with wealth and priviledge and deny many others the right to secure
homes, income, health care, or education.

The Heritage Inn, with higher walls and taller fences, epitomizes a
shift by Immigration Canada to jail people first and ask questions
later, decent access to lawyers or translators, to set bonds for
peoples. release from detention in the thousands of dollars, to deny
jailed children and parents access to fresh air, schooling or healthy
food - and for many people, to rip them from live built in Canada
without fair hearings, appeals processes, or any just opportunity to
have safe and secure futures in our communities.

In light of the recent retribution dealt by the Canadian state against a
courageous and tireless non-status Alergian organizer, Mohamed Cherfi,
targeted for risking his own status by refusing to back down against
Immigration policy that would have resulted in the deportation of a huge
community of Algerians to a country wracked with civil war, the call to
resist rings even louder. Mohamed and members of the Action Committee of
Non-Status Algerians organized relentlessly, taking repeated action and
winning a major concession that saw hundreds of people win landed status.
In the spirit of this victory and all people fighting for status both in
this country and around the world, we must act.

Fight back against this attack. Resist the racist and inhumane detention
and deportation machine, operating under the guise of .security. and the
untruth that all people coming to Canada have equal and easy access to
applying for papers that would allow them to stay. In a world where power
and greed has tilted the balance of resources and standard of living so
heavily in favour of so few, people should have the freedom to move, the
freedom to choose a safe and decent life for themselves and their

Join us on March 27th at Immigration Canada's newest racist jail, The
Heritage Inn. All participation welcome.

No Detention.
No Deportations.
No Prisons.
No one is Illegal.

To book a free seat on the bus, to make a donation or for more
information, contact OCAP (416-925-6939 /


December 12, 2004 - Guest/host event: Fundraiser for No One Is Illegal .
Toronto.s Art Group Project.

No One Is Illegal . Toronto has put together an art group for women and
children held in immigration detention since December 2003, at the
Heritage Inn (Toronto Immigrant Holding Centre) at 385 Rexdale Blvd. This
event showcases the artwork created in Toronto.s detention centre,
bringing the messages of those incarcerated within its walls to the
outside world and undermining nationalist assumptions of Canada as a
multicultural, immigrant-welcoming nation. As a space to open up
discussion on the issues faced by non-status immigrants in Canada, this is
a fundraising event to raise money and art supplies in order to continue
the art group project. Snacks and beverages will be served. Admission

Non-status immigrants are among the most marginalized groups in Canada.
Economic exploitation through underpaid wage labour and mistreatment at
the hands of employers, landlords and others are typical experiences faced
by people living without full legal immigration status. This is compounded
by the fact that they face significant barriers to public services, such
as legal support, education, emergency services, housing, health care, and
social services. As well, non-status immigrants in Canada face significant
risks including detention, deportation and surveillance.
No One is Illegal . Toronto is a group of immigrants, refugees and allies.
We work to educate, mobilize and network to defend immigrants, migrant
workers, refugees, and indigenous peoples, to oppose war and racism, and
to deepen our understanding of colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and
migration in today.s world.

Our demands:
* regularization of all non-status people in Canada
* no deportations
* no detentions
* no racial or religious profiling
* recognition of the right to free movement
* recognition of Indigenous sovereignty


from the New Socialist article on the Don.t Ask, Don.t Tell Campaign..

These Are The People in Your Neighborhood

There is no official count of people living illegally in Canada nor is
there a way to verify their numbers. Estimates vary but the number most
often cited in studies is 200 000. Many of these people have overstayed
their visas. Others have had their refugee/humanitarian and compassionate
claims turned down. According to the 2003 Auditor General.s report on
Citizenship and Immigration Canada.s control and enforcement, .The gap
between removal orders issued and confirmed removals has grown by about
36,000 in the past six years.
( This
number is projected to grow despite tightened immigration laws and
borders. (These statistics do not include individuals who have voluntarily
left Canada without reporting, those who are appealing their removal, and
illegal entries that are not on immigration Canada.s radar.)

The vast majority of illegals in Canada live in Toronto, Montreal and
Vancouver with Toronto being home to the largest number. Illegals are
drawn to large cities like Toronto because the employment opportunities
are greater in large cities. They are able to remain relatively invisible
among diverse populations, and their settlement may be facilitated by the
existence of common cultural and language communities. There are intricate
well-developed networks through which illegals are able to obtain work and
housing. It is not uncommon for illegals to reside in Canada for years
establishing families with children born in Canada: legal children with
illegal parents. (Children born in Canada of illegal parents receive
Canadian citizenship.)

Good Enough To Work, Good Enough To Stay

Illegal workers make a significant contribution to the Canadian economy.
Jim Murphy of the Greater Toronto Home Builders Association put it
bluntly, "If we didn't have them, we wouldn't be able to build houses"
(November 13, 2003, Canadian Press). In any given day most Canadians have
used a commodity that at one point involved illegal labour. Be it the
clothes they wear, the spaces where they live and shop, the food they eat,
or the manufactured goods they use. Illegals work .underground. in a
variety of jobs including restaurant work, construction, child care, sex
trade work, farming, manufacturing, day labour and cleaning. In 2001, the Ontario Construction Secretariat estimated that the underground economy cost the province about $1.3-billion a year in unpaid income taxes and that underground construction workers accounted for about one-quarter of that industry (about 76,400 workers) (November 15, 2003, The Globe and Mail). Though they do not pay income taxes, illegal workers pay sales taxes on the goods and services they use directly contributing millions of dollars to the governments coffers.
Despite well-publicized, regular crackdowns on illegals, the Canadian state has neither the wherewithal nor the inclination to fully remove illegals nor to stop their entry into Canada. The state lacks the wherewithal because a program to completely eradicate illegals would be too costly. The state lacks the inclination because, as noted previously, illegal workers are an important component of the economy. Mainstream economists have stated that .the economically optimal level of illegal migration is almost certainly greater than zero. The possible fiscal and political costs generated by illegal labour need to be weighed against the economic benefits of cheap and often complementary labour, as well as the often high costs of border controls and internal checks.

Illegal workers are a "flexible" workforce. That is, they are highly exploitable, willing to work for little pay, with no job security, no benefits and in unsafe conditions. Their precarious status and the fear of deportation make it difficult for them to collectively organize. Illegal workers are the ultimate surplus army of labour; their illegal status ensures that capitalists are able to maximize their profits by keeping their expenses down.