Members of the Coalition of Progressive Electors will vote this weekend on whether to include a “sanctuary city” policy in their platform for the 2014 election.
The idea reflects similar policies adopted in Toronto and Hamilton, according to Daniel Tseghay, who submitted the proposal.
“Recent changes to federal immigration policy create barriers for migrants in accessing official refugee, resident, or citizen statuses,” the motion reads.
“There is an increasing number of 'precarious status' – non-status or temporary status – individuals in Vancouver. Such residents experience worse living and labour conditions while being routinely denied access to crucial social services.”
The policy proposal calls for the city to ensure access to basic services for all Vancouver residents, regardless of immigration status, and for city workers not to ask about a resident’s status or report it to immigration authorities.
“The city needs to have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, where service providers will not ask for immigration status, and if they find it, they won’t share it with anybody,” Tseghay told the Straight.
“We need to make schools sanctuary zones, where children can go to school without the threat that their parents might be found out and deported.”
Tseghay said changes to immigration policies are resulting in a “two-tiered system”, in which some people fear they could be picked up and deported by authorities if they try to access services.
“We should become a city where migrants aren’t afraid to access very essential services,” he stated. “People are afraid to access things as basic as food banks, health care clinics, various emergency shelters, education.”
The proposal is one of dozens that will be considered by the municipal party for its election platform at a policy conference this weekend.
The conference will take place at the Japanese Hall on March 29 and 30.