Protesters fight to block new Laval migrant detention centre
Robin Della Corte, CTV Montreal
Published Monday, July 15, 2019 5:16PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 15, 2019 6:07PM EDT
Several community groups are protesting plans by Ottawa to build a new migrant detention centre in Laval.
While the Trudeau government claims it will be a more humane immigration detention centre, protesters say it is still cruel.
"Even short periods of detention are highly traumatic and detrimental to migrants' health," Marlihan Lopez, Vice President of the Quebec's Women Federation said. "We denounce the government's investment in infrastructure that upholds and reproduces violence against migrants."
The new 8,000 square-metre centre is going to be a place to hold migrants who can't prove their identity or deemed a potential security threat.
The new facility would be complete with a play centre for children and plenty of trees.
However, a 2014 Red Cross investigation revealed that these types of facilities face problems like overcrowding cells, lack of support for children, and in some cases when these facilities were full, migrants were held in provincial jails alongside criminals.
"People don't know that these things happen here too, there are definitely differences […] but Canada also imprisons migrants, Canada also separates family, people are also held in very difficult situations here with very little access to health or support services," Amy Darwish of Solidarity Across Borders said. "This is something that happens here as well."
Ottawa has handed down the $49.5 million contract to company Tisseur of Val-David to build a new detention centre in the next two years.
Detention centres are necessary when illegal migrants pose a flight risk, are a security threat, or cannot be identified, said Neil Drabkin, former chief of staff to the minister of public safety.
However, lawyer May Chiu says "people with precarious status should not be deprived of their right to liberty without facing criminal accusations and without having been found guilty of criminal infractions beyond a reasonable doubt."'
In a statement, the minister of public safety defended the new facility saying "immigration detention is a last resort and officers must always consider alternatives to detention."
With no sign of Ottawa backing down, protesters say it is their intention to make sure the new detention migrant centre is never built.
"This is a serious human rights violation and we are all accountable," Chiu said.