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TORONTO: CBSA criticized for arresting 21 illegals during vehicle spot check

CBC News

Posted: Aug 15, 2014 11:02 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 16, 2014 12:02 PM ET

The arrests of 21 undocumented workers during a vehicle safety blitz Thursday is causing controversy for the Canada Border Services Agency and Ontario Provincial Police.

 On Aug. 14 the OPP, along with officials from the ministries of transportation and environment, and the CBSA, took part in a vehicle spot checks in northwest Toronto, around Wilson Avenue between Jane Street and Highway 400.

 CBSA told CBC News on Friday it arrested 21 people who were “in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” 

But, because the arrests were made during vehicle safety check, some question the methods and motivations of the CBSA and OPP.

Immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann said this is “not routine” and is, in fact, “a huge breach of public trust.”

“In the guise of looking for safety issues … they are abusing that power and using it for whatever they feel like,” Mamann said.

“Safety blitzes are to determine whether or not the vehicles are safe and roadworthy, not to determine what your immigration status is. They are not connected.”

‘Racial profiling’

Syed Hussan, who is with the migrant activist group No One Is Illegal, said the pairing of the CBSA with the OPP amounts to targeted racial profiling.

“It’s a sweep, it’s racial profiling stopping cars in Jane and Finch under the guise of a traffic stop then coercing everyone to hand over their IDs, then detaining them,” Hussan said.

Geraldine Ortiz said her 27-year-old brother-in-law from Mexico was among those stopped on Thursday. He has been working for a contractor as a painter, is married to a Canadian woman and is currently in the process of making a citizenship claim, she said.

“They didn’t ID themselves as police or CBSA, they just told them to pull over and produce ID,” Ortiz told CBC News.

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