Protests follow news of reality show cameras accompanying Vancouver immigration busts

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      News that a reality television show’s camera crews were "embedded" with law enforcement teams that arrested immigrants working on Vancouver construction sites Wednesday (March 14) has sparked some public backlash.

      About 80 people gathered outside a Citizenship and Immigration office on Georgia Street today (March 14) to protest what happened, event organizers with No One Is Illegal (NOII) told the Georgia Straight.

      NOII’s Harsha Walia described the involvement of the televison show—which is under production for National Geographic Channel—as “vile.”

      “The fact that we have essentially embedded journalism in law enforcement is something that should alarm everybody,” she said in a telephone interview. “People are making money and we are consuming entertainment based on the violence of deportation and detention.”

      Members of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) conducted raids at at least three construction sites, arresting and detaining people of varying immigration status. The exact number remains unknown. Family members of those arrested reported that some of the men have since been moved to Vancouver International Airport.

      Walia added that at least some of the men arrested were asked to sign release forms that would allow them to be identified on television, possibly under duress.

      She said that she met with two of the men's wives, and expressed sympathy for those picked up in the raid. Walia described them “hard workers” and “men with families.”

      “All these guys, they live in East Van,” she said. “They’re familiar to the community, they use the community centers, their kids are in the school system.”

      Meanwhile, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE)—which held two city council seats from 2008-11—issued a press release calling for a ban on the filming of reality shows that “harass residents or workers based on citizenship status.”

      “COPE believes that the City of Vancouver should not issue permits for film productions which involve targeting residents and workers on the basis of immigration status,” the release states.

      CBSA did not respond to a request for an interview. Other media outlets have reported that their requests for comment have also gone unanswered. In a response sent to CBC News, the office of Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued a statement noting CBSA’s mandate to remove from the country individuals who violate immigration laws.

      According to a National Geographic website, the network is working with CBSA to produce a reality television show called BORDER SECURITY: Canada’s Front Line.

      “Follow Canadian border services officers as they intercept suspicious characters and contraband from around the world in an effort to keep us safe, and our health, workforce, and ecosystem secure,” it advertises. “In every episode of Border Security, cameras shadow CBSA officers as they interrogate suspicious passengers who may or may not be hiding something.”

      BORDER SECURITY: Canada’s Front Line is scheduled to premiere on the National Geographic Channel on March 21.

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      Mar 14, 2013 at 8:41pm

      Hey, it worked with "To Catch a Predator" - that worked out great!


      Mar 14, 2013 at 9:13pm

      Seriously, "violence of deportation and detention"???? Oh wait, it's Harsh Walla making her usual statements against all things sensible and legal. Oh wait, isn't she the same person who radically advocated on behalf of the black blockheads during the short lived occupy movement? YES! the one and the same. This person has a serious lack of credibility.

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:27am

      This is not first time immigration officers have toyed with immigrants. Sometimes they forget that immigrants are also humans with just as much feelings as anyone else. I was once locked up for 21 days and was readied for deportation. At the airport, they could not explain why I had to be removed from the country. Fearing some repercussions, they destroyed my deportation file but still forced me into the plane. Four days later, they advised their consulate to give me visa to return back to their country. I made all these and many more unbelievable stories available in my book, ‘Evicted from My Space.’

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:43am

      If you are illegal in a country, wait. Do not have children. Your kids will miss you when you are lawfully deported. Your wife/husband will miss you. I wont. You are not legal. You are a criminal. I do not make the laws, but I will support them. You are warned, you know its wrong. If you cannot get legal status in this country, that's a concern. Go where you can to be safe. Do not assume that illegal occupancy is safe. Its not. Maybe home, with you and your loved ones making a change there will be a better idea. Come back when you are legal. That is all.

      A Real Canadian (TM).

      Mar 15, 2013 at 7:10am

      These shows are awesome. Australia, U.S. and UK have them; why shouldn't we? Check it out, they're all over Youtube.

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 8:15am

      Why dose NOII not adopt these ILLIGAL people,and make them legal.They have no rights in this country.there are thousands of people waiting to get LEGALLY into Canada the land of FREE health care,refugee cheques,housing,unemloyment cheques,and then you can bring in the rest of your family,we the canadians will gladly pay more health care premiums to cover all these(feeloaders)people.

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 8:15am

      I am for strong Immigration Laws & Enforcement.

      However any idiot can come to Canada Legally via the nanny program, 'Temp' Work Visa etc.

      > In Alberta there are over 500,000 'Temp' Foreign Workers taking Jobs from Canadians.

      > In BC my neighbors just last month got a Nanny from mainland Communist China paid minimum wage for Slave hours 6 Days a week of labour.

      > I have seen many regular jobs in BC like Retail filled with Russians, Chinese & EU (Spain, UK & French) Citizens, while they maybe legal as in Visa holders it is absurd to allow low level employment to be taken by Foreign Nationals.

      > It is the height of stupidity to allow Canadian Jobs to be so easily taken when those very Countries especially the UK & EU make it very difficult for Canadians even highly skilled ones to get Jobs there.

      > the EU Trade Deal like the Communist China Trade Deal signed in Vladivostok Russia (see anything wrong with that :) will sell out working Canadians for the benefit of Corporate Profits.

      > Do you want a Foreigner to take Canadian Jobs so that mega Corporations can make a bit more profit?

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 10:50am

      What an original argument: They're takin' our jerbs!

      What year is it that this still gets trotted out like a crusty fruit cake at Christmas?

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      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:15pm

      Looks like there's quite a few Canadians out there who are lining up to dig ditches in the pouring rain and to clean the toilets of other 'legal' people.

      I wonder why the CBSA doesn't detain and charge the employees of these men? Construction firms and builders know full well who they are hiring, as they are required to pay workers comp., etc.

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      Rick in Richmond

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:39pm

      The group 'No One Is Illegal' may be a joke, but the principle it argues is dangerous to Canada.

      When someone wants to come to our great country, we have a system for adjudicating their request. No one has a 'right' to emigrate to Canada. For everyone, it is a privilege granted under our laws.

      On average, we welcome 250,000 new Canadian EVERY YEAR. Per capita, this is one of the highest rates of immigration in the world. It is a proud record.

      Giving carte blanche to every person who simply shows up is dangerous to our democracy. Some people ARE illegal.

      If Willie Pickton was an American, would we let him in?

      Every case needs to be determined on its merits. People who jump the line need to go to the back of it, just like every other serious contender for the privilege of living here.

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