The Struggle Of Non-Status Algerians Continues As A 90-day Stay Of Deportations Comes To An End

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Stop the Deportations!
The Struggle of Non-Status Algerians Continues as a 90-day Stay of Deportations Comes to an End.

An update on the Stop the Deportations Campaign

====================================>
This update includes:
1) A report about two actions carried out by the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians this week;
2) A copy of the letter delivered to Minister of Immigration Denis Coderre's riding office on January 30th;
3) A letter in support of the regularization of all non-status Algerians addressed to Denis Coderre;
4) A backgrounder and update about the situation of non-status Algerians in Canada.
====================================>

CODERRE REFUSES TO MEET WITH NON-STATUS ALGERIANS AS THE STRUGGLE AGAINST DEPORTATIONS CONTINUES

Montreal, January 30 2003 -- Today marks the end the 90-day stay of
deportations for non-status Algerians applying for permanent residence in
Canada according to a special Canada-Quebec procedure put into place on
October 30th 2002. About twenty-five members and supporters of The Action
Committee for Non-Status Algerians pursued their struggle for justice by
going to the Minister of Immigration Denis Coderre's consituency office in
Montreal North (Bourassa), to request an urgent meeting to discuss the
inadequacy of the special procedure. The procedure excludes many
'sans-statut' who once again are threatened with deportation to a country
ravaged by a bloody and ongoing civil conflict.

Wednesday, a delegation of 15 people went to CIC's 1010 St-Antoine West
offices to demand that those excluded from the procedure because they are
unable to pay the fee to file the application for permanent residence on
humanitarian grounds before January 30th be permitted to submit their
dossier without payment before the deadline, and to negotiate a realistic
payment plan. Three individuals who were unable to pay the fee ($550 per
adult and $150 per child) by the deadline were part of the delegation.

After nearly 45 minutes of being kept waiting in the offices, one member
of the committee, 7 months pregant, passed out. As an ambulance took her
to the hospital, immigration officials finally decided to respond, and the
committee brokered a meeting at 3 PM in the afternoon with Danielle
Racette, director of internal affairs at Immigration Canada. At 3 PM,
Racette emerged from her office and delivered a brief
speech to delegation (two minutes, thirty seconds) in which she said that
there were no legal grounds for her to waive the fee, that they had 24
hours to pay up, and that that was all she had to say. Anger and
frustration ran high, provoked by the degree of condescension in Racette's
manner and her refusal to acknowledge her capacity to extend an arbitrary
deadline, or to waive the fee that has been compared to the racist Chinese
head-tax imposed by the government to deter Chinese immigrants to Canada
at the turn of the century. "Deport me now!" shouted one person, "I am
sick after seven years of waiting in this Canada, so-called bastion of
human rights. "

Today's action took a different tone. The Action Committee for Non-Status
Algerians sent a letter to the Minister last week, requesting a meeting.
Coderre, just returned from a four-day sejour in a guarded government
villa in Algiers, refused. Today, the delegation arrived at Coderre's
riding office -- Canadian society's alleged access point to its elected
official -- to find it locked and secured by two guards and an RCMP
officer. (Apparently Coderre has learned something about security from the
regime in Algeria since 15 non-status Algerian women occupied the office
last fall.)

After a shouted argument through the locked door of the office, someone
started banging on the windows, trying to convince the guards to let them
into the office, and the sound of banging glass developed into the motif
for the entire protest. Unfazed at being locked out, the delegation
unfurled banners and banged pots, pans and spoons against the windows for
almost four hours, demanding the regularization of all non-status
Algerians living in Canada.

As three police cruisers surveilled the scene and five tactical squad vans
waited around the corner, the delegation-turned-demo demonstrated a
spirited resistance, shouting for justice and singing songs. Some people
flyered passers-by, the overwhelming majority of whom expressed their
support and agreed that deporting anyone to a country where there is
widespread violence and where they face torture, imprisonment or death
upon their return is outrageously unjust and inhumane. Other protesters
attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to gain entrance to the offices as police
officers entered or exited the building. Non-status Algerians and
supporters left the office late in the afternoon, after taping copies of a
letter intended for the Minister to the windows and doors of the
storefront office. [A copy of the letter is attached below.] The windows
were covered in posters and graffiti denouncing Coderre and Canada
Immigration with slogans such as: "Coderre, complice des generaux
Algeriens" (Coderre, accomplice of the Algerian generals), "Denis
Coderre: Ministre de l'injustice et des repas somptueux `a Alger" (DC:
Minister for Injustice and lavish meals in Algiers) and "Deportations
Zero!" (a riff on CIC's "zero tolerance" policy for
accepting applications for permanent residency of those with criminal
records).

This weeks' actions -- including a solidarity demonstration held last
Saturday in down-town Montreal and the delegation to Citizenship and
Immigration Offices on Wednesday -- launched the remobilization of
non-status Algerians' fight for justice with force and conviction. The
struggle will continue in the coming weeks and days. No to deportations!
Yes to the regularization of all non-status people!

- -------------------------------------------------------
A model letter of support for non-status Algerians living in Canada
addressed to Denis Coderre is appended below. You can email it to
Coderd1@parl.gc.ca and Minister@cic.gc.ca (cc it to cassdz@hotmail.com
and nooneisillegal@tao.ca) or fax it to Coderre's Ottawa Office at
(613)-996-9755 (send copies to (514) 848-7450).

You can email your letters of solidarity the Action Committee for
Non-Status Algerians to cassdz@hotmail.com or contact the Committee by
phone at (514) 885-9510. For more information, get in touch or check out
http://www.tao.ca/~sans-statut

This report was prepared by Andrea and Emmanuel from the No One Is Illegal
Campaign of Montreal. For more information about No One Is Illegal, you
can email nooneisillegal@tao.ca.

====================================>
Letter delivered to Immigration Minister Denis Coderre's riding offices on
January 30th 2003

Montreal, January 30th 2003

Mr. Denis Coderre
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Jean-Edmonds Tower South, 21st Floor
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Re: Reiteration of an urgent request for a meeting with The Action
Committee for Non-Status Algerians.

Dear Mr. Minister,

The Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians requests that you reconsider
their request for an urgent meeting to discuss the serious problems
created by the insufficiencies of the Ottawa-Quebec special procedure for
non-status Algerians, of whom a great number were to have submitted their
application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds by today.s
deadline.

Non-status Algerians are extremely worried, for a large number of them are
still at risk of being deported to Algeria, which would put their lives in
danger. There are individuals who are entirely excluded from the special
procedure (people who live outside of Quebec, people with criminal
records, those who have already received deportation orders or who have
already been deported, or those who cannot pay the fees to submit their
dossiers for study), as well as individuals who could be refused residence
according to Quebec.s evaluation of their .record of integration., or by
the federal government for reasons of health, among others.

We therefore insist on meeting with you within the next week in order
discuss solutions to this current situation.

We thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely yours,

The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians
Tel.: 514-996-3819 ou 514-885-9510
Fax: 514-934-0404 Email: cassdz@hotmail.com

====================================>
Example of a letter of support for non-status Algerians addressed to the
federal government.

===> Please send copies of your faxes to 514-848-7450 or of your letters
to cassdz@hotmail.com and nooneisillegal@tao.ca

City, Date

Mister Denis Coderre
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Jean-Edmonds Tower South, 21st floor
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 1L1
Fax : 613-957-2688 (Ottawa); 514-323-2875.(Montral)

Dear Mister Minister,

We are writing you to bring to your attention our great concern with
regard to the fate of non-status people of Algerian origin. We understand
that the special Canada-Quebec procedure announced on October 30 2002
falls far short of ensuring the protection of this entire group of people.
A number of them are still at risk of being deported while a civil
conflict continues to rage in Algeria, meaning that they would be at great
risk if they were to return. We remind you, Mister Minister, that Canada
has obligations toward these people; they have a right to life, liberty
and the safety of their person according to Article 3 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and they have the right to leave their
country, according to Article 13 of that same declaration.

Our organization has endorsed the demands of the Action Committee for
Non-Status Algerians, which are as follows: an immediate end to the
deportations, the reinstatement of the moratorium on deportations to
Algeria and the regularization of all non-status people. Consequently, we
denounce the fact that the special procedure for Algerians excludes a
great numbers of people and condemns them to deportation to a country
where their safety is threatened by a state of war.

We consider unacceptable the exclusion of people with a criminal record
from the special procedure because, on the one hand, these people have
already paid the penalty for their actions an, on the other hand, the
disproportion between the misdemenour and the punishment (deportation to a
country where one's safety is in danger) is a serious assault on an
elementary principle of law. We also think that the two week deadline
granted this fall for the registration of people with warrants for their
arrest because they did not submit to a deportation order was hugely
insufficient given their isolation and their vulnerability. Moreover, it
seems important to us that non-status Algerians living outside of Quebec
be allowed to benefit from procedure for regularization in the same way as
those living in Quebec.

Finally, for justice to be done, the regularization procedure of
non-status people must be applied retroactively -- which means that Canada
must allow people who have already been deported to return by offering
them permanent residence. As well, people lacking the funds to pay the
high fees necessary to file their humanitarian and compassionate review
must nonetheless have their dossiers studied by Quebec and be regularized.

Thus we continue to join our voices with that of the Action Committee for
Non-Status Algerians to demand justice and to support their demands. The
case of non-status people of Algerian origin raises issues tied to respect
for human rights, which appear to us to be very important to defend in a
context where the economic and geo-strategic interests tend increasingly
to eliminate concern for social justice, and where members of Arab and
Muslim communities are particularly targeted by racist prejudices and
measures.

We hope that your ministry will improve the special procedure in order to
end the injustices that we have described.

Sincerely yours,

====================================>

Background and Update on the
Situation of Non-Status Algerians
(January 14, 2003)

The 90s witnessed a new phenomenon in Canada : the arrival of many
Algerian refugees. This phenomenon was basically driven by a very violent
civil conflict that has torn Algeria apart for about ten years, a conflict
that pits armed Islamist groups against a dictatorial and corrupt military
regime. The toll these ten years of war has taken is disastrous: 150, 000
dead, 12, 000 disappeared, a million displaced and a disturbing situation
with regard to the respect of human rights.

Among the Algerian refugees who arrived in Canada, approximately 1,000
people still haven.t been recognized as political refugees by the
Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). However, a moratorium instated on
March 3rd, 1997 prohibited deporting people to Algeria. By instating this
moratorium, the Canadian government recognized the right to protection of
these Algerian people and judged that the situation in Algeria had become
dangerous. These Algerians, though not recognized as refugees, therefore
had the right to reside legally on Canadian soil without having status as
residents. That.s why they called themselves "non-status".

These non-status individuals didn.t have the right to a health card, or to
family subsidies, or to study. What.s more, their social insurance number
was special.it began with the number 9. which made it difficult for them
to gain entry to the job market. Additionally, non-status people had to
obtain a work permit, which had to be renewed annually at an average fee
of 150 dollars a year. Certain people found themselves having the renewal
of their work permit refused even if they could pay the fee.

The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians, which formed before the
lifting of the moratorium, did the work of mobilizing, sensitizing and
bringing media attention to the situation. Various actions were
undertaken, such as a weekly picket outside the offices of the IRB.

Last April 4th, 2002, the Prime Minister of Canada left on an official
trip to Algeria. On the same day, the Minister of Immigration, Denis
Coderre, called a news conference to announce the lifting of the
moratorium on removals to Algeria. The Minister argued that the situation
in Algeria no longer constituted a danger to the safety of people deported
from Canada. Even so, at the time of the Minister.s announcement, the
situation in Algeria remained very dangerous for the civilian population
with an average of 100 people killed each month and a treacherous record
of human rights violations (kidnappings, summary executions, violent
repression, etc.)

The Canadian branch of Amnesty International called the lifting of the
moratorium "premature" and "political". At that time, a report put out by
the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs recommended that Canadian
citizens put off all travel to Algeria because of the violence raging
there. So why did Canada decide to lift the moratorium on deportations to
Algeria?

To answer the question, it is necessary to know that Algeria is Canada.s
primary economic partner in Africa and the Middle East, with an annual
commercial trade value of 2 billion dollars. The President of Algeria
Abdelaziz Bouteflika repeated this frequently when he visited Canada in
2000 to promote the liberalization of the Algerian economy and the
privatization of public services (see the text about SNC-Lavallin, symbol
of Canadian-Algerian business interests). Everything indicates that the
lifting of the moratorium, accomplished at the time of Jean Chretien.s
visit to Algeria, aimed at normalizing Canadian-Algerian relations and
thereby favored the augmentation of commercial trade between the two
countries.

Following the lifting of the moratorium, The Action Committee for
Non-Status Algerians asked that the government of Canada satisfy three
demands: an end to deportations, a reinstatement of the moratorium and the
general regularization of non-status people. To concretize these
objectives, the CASS undertook many actions. These included:
- - The mobilization of directly-affected people by means of assemblies;
- - Raising public awareness, through public assemblies, information
sessions in universities and cegeps, tabling to collect petition
signatures, the distribution of flyers (more than 4000 flyers were
distributed during Saint-Jean festivities), the organization of marches,
including one which brought at least 1000 people into the streets of
Montreal.
- - Bringing media attention to the situation by means of interviews, news
conferences and participation in community radio.

At the end of September 2002, the CASS had to undergo its first serious
test. Indeed, the Bourouisa family had a deportation date on October 20
2002. The CASS called for the creation of a Non-Status Women.s Committee,
which brought a new dynamic to the struggle. To prevent the deportation
of the Bourouisa family, the Women.s Committee organized to direct
actions: one at the office of the Minister of Immigration and the other at
Immigration Canada.s offices. These two actions, which involved many women
and children, put pressure on the government. What.s more, the Women.s
Committee organized a Women.s March on October 12th 2002, a march
supported by the Federation des femmes du Quebec, among other groups. The
march was led by women and children. Finally, the CASS also organized a
big rally in front of the IRB building at the Guy Favreau complex in
October, and asked for the support of numerous Quebecois and Canadian
organizations that backed the CASS.s demands and publicly expressed their
solidarity.

Finally, faced with the Immigration Canada's categorical refusal to
reconsider their case, the Bourouisa family decided to take refuge in a
church. This action had the merit of bringing the question of non-status
Algerians to the heart of public debate. During the time that the family
sought sanctuary in the Church, the majority of media covered them
favorably, and through them, all non-status Algerians. Under so much
pressure, the Canadian government finally backed down by proposing a joint
solution with the Quebec government.

The special procedure does not protect all non-status people

This special procedure only applies to non-status people of Algerian
origin. It involves a temporary stay of deportations (which expires on
January 30 2003) and the possibility of applying for permanent residency
while inside of Canada.

Nonetheless, the procedure is unsatisfactory. On the one hand, it doesn't
recognize the problem problem non-status Algerians as an issue of
protection, and on the other hand, it excludes many categories of people
who remain condemned to deportation to a country torn apart by civil war,
where their safety is threatened.

The procedure maintains that applications for permanent residence on
humanitarian and compassionate grounds must be sent to the federal
government, which will forward the dossiers.with the exception of
inadmissible categories.to the government of Quebec. Quebec will then
evaluate the dossiers according to a "record of integration" which takes
into account data like the level of education, work experience, volunteer
work done in Quebec, language fluency, etc. The lack of recognition of the
need for protection and this evaluation based on integration is
problematic.

In effect, the situation of psychological insecurity in which non-status
people have lived for many years is, for many, an obstacle to integration.
It is difficult to find the strength to hunt for a job (discrimination
doesn't help), to take training courses or to go volunteer when Canada has
refused you political asylum and you fear deportation to a country in
which your life is in danger. It is made all the more difficult by the
fact that non-status people have been refused access to health services
and social services and the possibility of studying, not to mention the
fact that some have been refused work permits. If many have managed in
spite of all this to become "well-integrated", it seems entirely unjust
that the most vulnerable individuals, who were unable to find the
psychological strength or who had fewer resources due to their social
origins, find themselves disqualified and condemned to deportation. The
situation of incredible tension experienced by non-status people has
nefarious effects on their physical and mental health (insomnia,
depression, suicidal tendencies, etc.).

In addition to not recognizing the need to protect non-status people of
Algerian origin, the federal-provincial procedures exclude many categories
of them. First of all, the"zero tolerance" rule with regard to
criminality, announced by the Federal government, implies that any
non-status individual with a judicial record is excluded from the
procedure. This constitutes neither more nor less than a double penalty,
which is to say it is a discriminatory policy that imposes a second
penalty on people who have already been punished for the misdemeanour of
which they are accused. This violates one of the fundamental principals of
a state of law since the punishment is totally disproportionate to the
offense.often a minor crime linked to a situation of vulnerability. Can
one speak of justice when one deports someone who has stolen a winter
coat?

Another excluded category is that of people with arrest warrants because
they have not submitted to deportation orders. The federal government
granted them at two-week period on October 30th 2002 to register with
Immigration Canada. That deadline was greatly insufficient, given their
isolation and their vulnerability. These people condemned to deportation
have first to learn about the procedure and then, in addition, given their
lack of trust in the authorities, they must be able to be accompanied and
reassured in order to come out of hiding. According to numbers released at
the beginning of January, there are 173 people with warrants against them.

Another category of people not benefiting from the same treatment as the
others are those Algerians without status who live outside of Quebec. The
government promises to treat their claims for residency based on
humanitarian considerations separately, but nothing ensure that they will
be granted protection or considered as Canadian residents. There are about
60 of such individuals.

A final category of excluded people is that of non-status individuals who
were deported before the special procedure was established. There were 39
such people at the beginning of January. These people have to be allowed
to return to Canada and to receive protection, which is to say permanent
residence.

There may also be individuals and families with children who will be
excluded from the procedure because they are unable to pay the very high
fees ($550 per adult, $150 per child) required to file the application for
a humanitarian and compassionate review. That application is a necessary
prerequisite for evaluation by Quebec.

To conclude, the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians wishes to
repeat once again that the moratorium on deportations to Algeria was not
lifted for good reasons, since Canada is still officially warning
Canadians not to travel to Algeria for reasons of safety. The situation of
non-status Algerians in Canada is really an issue of protection and not
one of them deserves to be condemned to death to serve Canada's financial
interests.

The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians reasserts its basic
demands.the reinstatement of the moratorium, an end to deportations to
Algeria and the regularization of all non-status.and as such requires the
integration of the excluded categories into the special procedure. The
Action Committee also demands assurance that that procedure will guarantee
the protection, and therefore the regularization, of all non-status people
of Algerian origin.

Non-status people know that they would not have obtained anything from the
governments without collective action and struggle and without the
solidarity of organizations in Quebec, Canada and elsewhere. They intend
to pursue this struggle for justice, and hope that the great solidarity
demonstrated this fall will persist until a happy conclusion is achieved.