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No One Is Illegal

The No One is Illegal campaign is in full confrontation with Canadian colonial border policies, denouncing and taking action to combat racial profiling of immigrants and refugees, detention and deportation policies, and wage-slave conditions of migrant workers and non-status people.

We struggle for the right for our communities to maintain their livelihoods and resist war, occupation and displacement, while building alliances and supporting indigenous sisters and brothers also fighting theft of land and displacement.

contact NOII-Van:
email: noii-van@resist.ca
tel: 604-682-3269 +7149

 
 

No One is Illegal Statement in Opposition to the Minutemen

No One is Illegal-Vancouver denounces and completely opposes the Minutemen Project.  We oppose all such vigilante attacks against our communities. On October 1, 2005, the Minutemen launched their campaign on the U.S./Canadian border. They have already been met with clear opposition from community groups on both sides of the border. We affirm that this opposition will continue to grow and that we stand united against and will not tolerate any such activity on the Canadian side of this border.

Since April of 2005, the Minutemen have engaged in the targeting of racialized communities under the pretext of preserving U.S. security. The Minuteman Project has arisen out of a history of vigilante groups patrolling the U.S/Mexico border against “illegals” and “potential terrorists”. The post 9/11 climate has perpetuated the false association between migrants and terrorism. A new anti-terrorist paradigm guides enforcement and immigration matters are now contextualized within the “war on terrorism” where the result is an increased number of abuses of migrants and racialized communities. The very basis of racial profiling is the double standard by which individual members of communities are stereotyped and legislation is passed and legitimized to criminalize their civil liberties and human rights. The Minutemen Project is based on this very false consciousness.

Members of the Minuteman Project have been shown to have clear ties with white supremacist groups such as the National Alliance, yet they have attempted to distance themselves from the allegations of racially motivated actions by stating “ethnicity, race, religion and all suchfactors are incidental and … irrelevant in the debate over illegal immigration”. However, any just account of the migration of peoples of the Third World needs to recognize that ethnicity, race and religion have been central to the political, social and economic repression which are the driving forces behind this displacement. These borders have been made open to the free movement of the very corporations and neo-liberal policies causing oppressive displacement but decidedly closed to those migrating humans deemed undesirable.

Furthermore, the “illegal” movement to which they refer includes that of Indigenous peoples who are simply traversing borders which were imposed upon them, dividing their territories and communities. The Minutemen have falsely claimed that they have the support and are working in the best interest of Indigenous nations – protecting their land from the invasion of illegal migrants. However, various Indigenous communities have already denied such claims.

Finally, they have openly stated that they are concerned by the "tens of millions of invading illegal aliens who are devouring and plundering [their] nation". The Minutemen have labeled migrants as being “people who wish to take advantage of a free society”. The reality is that the U.S. and Canadian economie take advantage of the cheap labour of such migrants – who work farms, cook food and clean homes- yet they remain invisible and under constant threat of inhumane immigration policies and racist backlash. By equating the movement of migrants to an “invasion”, they have clearly attempted to foster anti-migrant sentiment – furthering the threat of violence against already marginalized communities.

Therefore we, along with numerous civil rights organizations and community groups in the U.S., are gravely concerned by the impunity with which such a group that has clearly stated racist views and alliances has been allowed to carry out armed border patrols. It is not lost upon us that there exists an obvious political and social double standard, by which communities of color have been increasingly subjected to arbitrary detentions, racial profiling and charged for being terror suspects on secret evidence or no evidence, while vigilante groups whose work actually harms and terrorizes communities have been either openly or tacitly supported by government officials.

Besides the deployment of border patrol units, the Minutemen have put out national calls to recruit “informants” on “illegal aliens”, their employers and anyone engaged in what they term “identification fraud”. Their statements have promoted an environment of constant insecurity for those who are already the most insecure individuals of marginalized communities – people who suffer the greatest poverty, racism, inhumane working conditions and lack of social services; people who face exploitation on every front.

The Minutemen are a present day example of a history of violence towards migrants. Over 3,500 people have died crossing the US/Mexico border since 1994. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said at least 464 migrants died crossing the border from Mexico into the US during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. And let us remember that in the U.S. invasion of Mexico at least 25,000 Mexican people were murdered for the land the Minutemen patrol today.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) implementation in 1994, the economic consequences of the neoliberal trade policy has created a multifaceted crisis that now dominates the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Economically violent policies like NAFTA force people off their land and out of their communities- over 1.5 Million Mexican farmers have lost their farms as a result of NAFTA- to migrate towards the Northern economy to work in low-paying sectors of the economy that heavily rely on their hyper-exploitable labour.

The simultaneous militarization of the border through Operation Gatekeeper has drastically transformed the fragile desert land over the past decade. Black helicopters and unmanned drones patrol the desert by sky, searching for human beings with infrared cameras. Families living in Nogales, one city divided by the border, see a large concrete and steel wall topped with barbed wire everyday.  Gatekeeper was developed with help from the U.S. Department of Defense's Center for Low Intensity Conflicts and has been implemented in three phases. Each has raised the risks of migrants dying, yet Border Patrols confirms that the added dangers have not slowed the migrant foot traffic.

“Through my eyes, the problem is that what occurs on the U.S. México border is one of the grossest human rights violations in the history of the United States,” states Ray Ybarra, American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson, “Here in our backyard, human beings have to face death and hatred.”

In a petition filed year before last with the Organization of American States, the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties and the Oceanside-based California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation have charged that the U.S. government has flagrantly abused human rights by resorting to a strategy at the border designed to maximize the physical risks, which cannot be reconciled with the obligation to protect life, be it an undocumented person's or a citizen's.

The end result of the Minuteman Project will be an even more militarized border; more migrant deaths, and more fear in our communities. We are disturbed by the fact that the Minutemen have stated their larger goal is setting “not only an example for other Americans to follow, but a precedent we hope will have a lasting effect on how border security is viewed for generations to come.” Canada and the US have already developed a militarized and integrated, so-called Smart Border Policy, including the Safe Third Country Agreement implemented in December 2004 and known to many as Fortress North America.

We cannot forget our basic moral underpinnings as to how we treat other human beings.


Time is Up for the Minutemen!

OCTOBER 1ST BODER ACTION REPORT: Minutemen shut down on U.S. - Canadian Border

The Minuteman northern border patrol has officially begun. As was widely publicized by the Minutemen and their supporters, October 1st was the launch date of this latest campaign – six months after the beginning of their first armed patrol on the Arizona/Mexico border. Detachments have now been sent along the U.S./Canadian border in the states of Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington State.

Though slated to make a launch appearance at the Peace Arch, which marks the border between Washington State and British Columbia – there were no Minutemen to be seen there on October 1st. Members of the vigilante group
were spotted - in much smaller numbers than originally publicized – along a few stops on the border near Abbotsford, B.C.

When questioned by the media as to their original plans to have a gathering at the Peace Arch, The Minutemen confirmed that the location was changed in order to avoid
the protestors.

Instead, loud cries of protest against the armed border vigilantes were heard from a group of about 60-80 protestors who had gathered from both sides of the border as well as a heavy media presence to cover the events.
Community members from Bellingham, Blaine and Vancouver stood together to denounce this latest demonstration of racist anti-migrant activity as well as the larger political and social ramifications of the Minutemen’s actions. Organizers from both sides have begun an active campaign to counter the Minutemen and bring public attention to the harsh realities surrounding migration and the threat that such groups pose to marginalized communities.

The Minutemen have also in the past told the media that the Lummi reserve has welcomed them to train on their territory in Washington State. A member of the community, however, completely denied those claims.

“It is an outrage that armed groups can patrol the border and threaten our communities this way without any repercussions,” said Harjap Grewal, an organizer with No One Is Illegal Vancouver. “Why are these groups not
being condemned by the government”, he added, “while members of our communities are increasingly subjected to racial profiling, arbitrary detentions and labelled as terrorists?"

Since the Minutemen began their activities along the U.S. – Mexican border in April of this year, numerous communities in the U.S. have clearly demonstrated their opposition and outrage over both their actions and the impunity with which they have been allowed to work. Thus far, ½ of the
Minuteman members have been former military and the majority have been armed. Though they have maintained that they are not a racist group, many of their members have been shown to have ties to white supremacist groups.

The Minutemen and their supporters have openly blamed migrants and “illegals” as being the cause of disease, crime and low wages.  “They’re spreading all the racist myths about migrants that we’ve heard before,” said Mandeep Dhillon, another organizer with No One Is Illegal Vancouver.
“The Minutemen and their allies will say that migrants are free-loading off the system when the truth is that this system only exists because of the exploited labor of such migrants. If NAFTA can cross the border then so can the poor.”

The Minutemen have stated that beyond border patrols,one of their main objectives is to influence the  public perception of border security and policy changes to further militarize the U.S. borders. Resistance to their actions, however, is also on the rise in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Along the Mexican border, where a record 460 migrants have died in the last year alone as a result of U.S. border policies known as Operation Gatekeeper, numerous protest actions are planned for October 8th.