Civil Rights

No huddled masses please

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
and I’ll send them right back to you.

Martin Macias, new media journalist denied entry to Canada, is not a pathfinder. Because he is a critic of the Olympic movement, notably with No Games Chicago, Macias is unwelcome in Stephen Harper’s Canada. Indeed, he is not the first to be unwelcome in Canada. Nor will he be the last.

We have a long tradition of keeping out people who make us uncomfortable, particularly poor people. We used to block all brown-skinned souls coming here from mysterious places. They made us uncomfortable.

We did learn to make exceptions. The wealthy, even Asians, have been welcome throughout the past 50 years. We focus mostly on blocking the poor now but also those who support Palestinian causes or are part of the new generation of American service dodgers and deserters. They also can be turned back if they don’t have a reference from Sarah Palin and the teabaggers.

Martin, just so you don’t feel like you’ve been singled out. Your is simply one of the cases where Catch 22 applies. Here are a few examples that demonstrate our Canadian Border policies:

  • 2007 – Canadian immigration authorities denied entry to three Mexicans because “they didn’t appear to have money and looked very poor.” One of the victims said authorities did strip searches and searched their belongings four times and then took them to a detention center where they were handcuffed and detained. Two of the Mexicans were carrying $300 U.S. in cash and the other, $150; between the three they had 14 credit and debit cards and also had return tickets to Mexico.
  • 2007 – An American peace activist, detained by immigration officials in B.C. for two days, is accusing Ottawa of engineering her confinement to silence critics of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Alison Bodine, 22 was carrying anti-war pamphlets in her car when she was arrested at the Peace Arch border crossing.
  • 2009 – William Ayers, professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago was one of the founders of the Weather Underground, whose members protested the Vietnam War four decades ago. He was invited to Ottawa by the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE). Mr. Ayers was denied an entry visa. He was also denied entry to Canada this past January, when he was scheduled to give a talk at the University of Toronto.
  • 2009 – British MP George Galloway, who’s opposed to the war in Afghanistan, is not allowed into Canada for speaking engagements. We know what loose lips can sink.
  • 2009 – Rose Kelley, 25 was refused entry twice by CBSA at Sarnia’s Bluewater Bridge because she didn’t have a job and was collecting social services. The single mother of two was invited to spend three days in Canada at the home of Wayne and Carolyn Leblanc. The couple have their own home and were paying for Kelley’s visit. “The officer said a person on welfare shouldn’t be going on vacation,” Kelley said in her May 4 complaint to the CBSA. He (the officer) said: “You really should not come back to the border until your life drastically changes.”
  • 2009 – Chandra and Presilda Felix were advised that five year-old son Moses faced two to three years of cancer treatment. With two other children and no family in Alberta, they asked Presilda’s mother in Sri Lanka to help out. But Canadian immigration officials thought grandma posed a risk, and told her she couldn’t come. Moses died and the Grandmother was also prohibited from attending his funeral.

Categories: Civil Rights

2 replies »

Leave a reply but be on topic and civil.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s