On Saturday January 28th, demonstrators gathered in Norman Bethune Square in Montreal to show their opposition to Trump’s recent executive orders targeting migrants and refugees. Protest continued on Monday, January 30th, with activists shutting down the U.S. consulate.
Demonstrators called out the racism of Trump’s policies, with chants like, “End white supremacy, no bans, no registry.” They also disputed the right-wing narrative that immigrants are responsible for economic recession, chanting, “Unemployment and inflation are not caused by immigration. Bullshit! Get off it! The enemy is profit!”
According to demo organizer Jaggi Singh, “Trump’s recent executive orders are a stunning attack on the rights of migrants, particularly Muslim migrants, and migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Refugee claims in the United States are not possible and won’t be for at least one hundred and twenty days.”
On January 27th, newly inaugurated President Trump signed an executive order banning those holding citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein has described this order as “discrimination based on national identity,” which is “illegal under human rights law.”
Speakers at the demo discussed Trump’s executive order directing the department of Homeland Security to release a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented migrants.
Commenting on this, Singh says, “There’s no huge difference between the number of crimes committed by undocumented migrants and those committed by regular citizens. It’s the same, if not less by undocumented people. The only effect of publishing those crimes is to continue to nurture the hatred of migrants, the hatred of undocumented people.”
Trump has also signed an executive order de-funding all sanctuary cities across the US.
“Sanctuary cities aren’t a terribly radical thing,” says Singh, “They’re simply municipal administrations like Boston, San Fransisco, Minneapolis, and Atlanta who say that it’s not our job to enforce immigration, it’s the job of the federal government. For some cities, this is motivated by progressive mindset, and for some by more practical, monetary concerns. Even that basic gesture is being attacked.
“One of our demands in response to this is to reinforce the idea of Montreal, not only as a sanctuary city, but as a solidarity city. What this would mean is that we open municipal and provincial resources to undocumented people, whether they’re living here or elsewhere.”
On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted in response to Trump’s immigration ban, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”
Responding to Trudeau’s tweets, Singh said, “On a symbolic level that’s good, but we need to go beyond the symbolic level. There are specific tangible things he can do and he hasn’t done that at all.”
Singh suggest that if Trudeau is serious about welcoming refugees into Canada, he should repeal the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.
“The Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect in 2004, prevents refugee claims from being made in Canada by those who have travelled through the U.S. The agreement should be cancelled and all refugees who want to make claims in Canada should be allowed to do so. This policy is outdated and should be abolished; it has horrible consequences on lives of migrants.
“Ultimately, we can’t put faith in the Trudeau government to follow through, not without significant grassroots pressure, including our own.”
Singh continues, “Resistance looks like supporting people who are under attack in our communities, but it also looks like political resistance. This means cities offering sanctuary and solidarity with people who are undocumented, it means refusing to collaborate with border agents, it means also resistance to the wall itself, including physical resistance which means taking that wall down. One way we can show support is to open up that conversation, to start legal funds for those involved in resisting the border and unjust immigration laws.”
Resistance continues in Montreal, with several more actions planned this week, including:
TDBank Action! Defund DAPL!
February 1st, noon, Norman Bethune Square
United We Stand #NoHate
February 1st, 4pm, McGill University