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Something's Going On In The World: The Action Committee For Non-Status Algerians Confronts Coderre To Demand Justice For The 'ex

Coderre was speaking to over two hundred immigration lawyers and consultants attending a conference on Canada's new Immigration and Refugee Protection (sic) Act (IRPA). The conference was hosted by the Canadian Bar Association at the posh Mont-Royal Centre in downtown Montreal.

A delegation, organized by the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians,
attended the luncheon uninvited in order to confront Coderre and publicly
demand that he adopt a just solution for non-status Algerians excluded
from the Canada-Quebec Joint Procedure. Coderre has consistently refused
to meet with the Action Committee to discuss their demands, which include
a stop to deportations, the reinstatement of the moratorium on
deportations to Algeria, and the regularization of all non-status.

During his speech, Coderre sang the praises of the IRPA, which has been
harshly criticized by immigrants, refugees, non-status people and refugee
advocacy groups across the country since its first reading as Bill C-11.
As he spoke about the importance of admitting qualified immigrants as
skilled workers to meet the requirements of the Canadian economy,
Coderre's comments were met with jeers and angry laughter from at least
one member of the delegation, who shouted "Slaves! You just want more
slaves!" Many non-status Algerians living in Canada are highly qualified
professionals, yet their qualifications are not recognized or certified.
Non-status people have to apply yearly for hard-to-get work permits. They
are issued special SIN numbers that begin with 9. The 9 alerts potential
employers to their status, leaving non-status people vulnerable to
exploitation in poorly-compensated and unstable jobs.

Lawyers and consultants, who had paid up to $716 to attend the two-day
long conference, shifted uncomfortably in their seats and looked down at
their oven-roasted stuffed red pepper.

Coderre also spoke about the necessity of finding new ways of expediting
deportations, and stated that his department was still considering
biometrics as one way of helping to secure Canada's borders. "We can't
bury our head in the sand," said the Honorable Minister profoundly,
seeming to refer to the need for heightened border security in light of
the current global situation, "Something's going on in the world."

As he wrapped up, members of the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians
moved toward the Minister to articulate their demands. But Coderre
scrambled toward the media theatre shielded by aids, security guards, male
kitchen staff (!) and half a dozen police who prevented the chanting
delegation from following.

Smail Behlouli, a spokesperson for the Action Committee, addressed the
crowd of lawyers and consultants. He explained the urgency of the
situation of those who have found themselves excluded from the
Canada-Quebec Joint Procedure, which was instituted on October 30, 2002.
Among 'the excluded' are people who were living outside Quebec when the
moratorium on deportations to Algeria was lifted on April 5, 2002; people
with criminal records, often for minor offences like shop-lifting;
individuals who, for one reason or another, did not complete their refugee
claim; and those who could not afford the hefty administrative fees
required to file the Humanitarian and Compassionate Claim required by the
Joint Procedure. They now risk deportation back to Algeria, a country
still torn by a civil conflict that has taken 150,000 lives and resulted
in 7,000 'disappearances' since it began in 1992. While some conference
attendees continued their meal, intently focused on their food, a couple
nodded vigorously and many applauded as Smail concluded.

Chanting "No one is illegal!" and "Fatigue! Fatigue! Donnez-nous nos
papiers!", the delegation left the building triumphantly. As a vocal
picket line was set up outside the conference center, a lawyer leaving the
conference approached the group and, holding back tears, congratulated
them on the action.

Ironically, the actions of non-status Algerians at today's luncheon
actually proved Coderre right on one thing. Something IS going on in the
world. People displaced by the violence of war and economic dispossession
are organizing to resist Western governments' racist attempts to control,
exploit, criminalize, scapegoat, and deport them. They are organizing for
justice, for the right to move freely and to live in dignity wherever they
choose. The question now is: How long are Coderre and his colleagues going
to hide their head in the sand?

This report was written by Andrea for the No One Is Illegal Campaign of Montreal.

For more information or to get in touch with the Action Committee for
Non-Status Algerians, contact 514.996.3819 or cassdz@yahoo.fr, or check
out

For more information or to get in touch with the No One Is Illegal
Campaign of Montreal, contact 514.409.2049 or nooneisillegal@tao.ca