‘Justice for immigrants, freedom for refugees’
Migrants protest against Trump’s travel ban
By Lui Queaño
TORONTO– U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning the entry of immigrants and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries sparked protests in Toronto in front of the U.S. Consulate, on University Ave. south of Dundas St., on Monday, Jan. 30. Thousands of demontrators again regrouped on Saturday, Feb. 4, and occupied three to four city blocks along University Ave. while RCMP put barricades in front of the U.S. Consulate where migrant protesters carrying anti-Trump signs chanted: “Justice for migrants, freedom for refugees.”
In a solidarity statement , the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) called Trump’s recent announcements “anti-immigrant”. It also said Trump’s immigration ban could have led to the massacre of six Muslims in Quebec City on Sunday, Jan. 30.
“We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to win. We must link the struggles of refugees, immigrants and migrant workers starting with labour mobility and permanent status,” the statement said.
The group also challenged the Trudeau government to consider the people’s dissent over travel ban as an opportunity to prove to the world that Canada is really a welcoming country for refugees and migrants by making substantive changes in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). The Federal government’s TFWP review last Jan. 31 offered no new changes in the program and instead put it on hold until the budget is released in the spring.
“While the four-and-four rule was revoked, other more substantive changes that workers and allies have been demanding that could help build decent work and decent lives for migrant workers have not been implemented,” the statement further said.
Trump’s true color
Jesson Reyes, Migrante-Ontario Coordinator, said he already senses this as happening driven by a mix of demographic changes, security issues and economic problems being experienced by the working class Americans.
According to Reyes, Trump has now shown his true color as a neo-fascist, ultra right-wing leader belonging to the same class of elite leaders as the previous U.S. administrations.
The attacks on Muslims and Islam are very worrisome especially when the populist Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments are realized by way of his executive orders. This is quite alarming for all the migrants of the world,” Reyes said.
“ Ang immigration ban sa U.S. ay isang taktika ng mga naghaharing uri (Trump) para ilihis ang discontent ng mamayan sa America. Mas lalong tumitindi ang economic crisis ng U.S. bilang isang monopoly capitalist state na patuloy sinu-supress ang wages ng mga mangaggawa. Ganito na rin naman ang pang ekonomiyang kalagayan ng U.S. kahit bago pa naging presidente si Trump
(The U.S. immigration ban is just one of the tactics of the ruling elite class (Trump) to divert the discontent of the American people. The economic crisis in the U.S. has intensified as a monopolist capitalist state that continues to suppress worker’s wages. This has been the economic situation in the States even before Trump became the President), Reyes further commented.
Racism and Islamophobia
The public mood shown during the two recent protests confirms that immigrants and refugees were very much affected by Trump’s ban. In fact, when people were called to join the protest through Dave Meslin’s facebook account, non-Muslims, non-refugees, migrant organizations and community groups came readily to express their outrage.
“When racism is being promoted by those who hold the highest offices of power everyone has responsibility to speak out against it. The recent murders in Quebec remind us of what happens when we don’t speak out against racism. This protest also sends a message that the Muslims, non-Muslims and non-refugees are not alone in this fight, ” said Meslin, who posted the “peaceful non-disruptive protest” on his Facebook event page.
A Syrian immigrant who requested anonimity said he joined the protest march to say “ no to hatred and madness. If we don’t stand for others or for ourselves there’s gonna be one point in time that no one’s gonna stand for us”. He said the protest personally touched him because of the amount of support of people from different backgrounds denouncing Trump’s Muslim ban.
Rights for all Migrants
The protest also opened the floodgates to all the migrants and community advocates to protect their rights and welfare as shown last Saturday’s protest in defense of rights for all migrants.
Elaine Valenzuela, an immigrant from the Philippines, said she came voluntarily and joined the protest march to show her support to the community of immigrants who are affected by the travel ban. She is worried this may be the start of crackdown on immigrants and refugees and they may be in danger of deportation.
“The protest is inspiring because there are issues that I agree with. I’m actually a Filipino… The way that people consider citizenship and the rights to be here-these have always been contested. So I think it’s important for all the people to fight for that. I think now there’s a level of drive and passion because of what’s been happening. And I think people are reacting and being active in that reaction,” Valenzuela said.
Elaine Manlongat who was born in the Philippines and now works as a pharmacist and owns a small business in Canada said she came to protest against the travel ban as it’s a “very empowering experience” seeing different all types of people coming together as Canadians speaking out against racism.
“I think Trump’s Muslim ban definitely highlighted this issue of undocumented migrants. But being an immigrant myself, I feel Canadians as a whole we tend to govern ourselves differently, meaning we embrace other cultures, religions, races, etc. The diversity we have in Canada is what makes us so great. Obviously there will be prejudices out there but generally there’s really no better place than here. You work hard and you reap the benefits. I think most Canadians embrace migrants”, Manlongat said.