CSU Council Passes Migrant Justice Position

Calls University to Adopt “Sanctuary Campus” Status

A CBSA vehicle was spotted on the downtown campus a few weeks ago. Courtesy CSU

The Concordia Student Union passed a motion at a council meeting on Nov. 23 to add a migrant justice position to its Positions Books.

This can enable the CSU to discuss the prospect of Concordia becoming a “sanctuary campus” with the administration.

Based on the term used by Canadian and American cities, a “sanctuary city” protects undocumented immigrants from prosecution for violating federal immigration laws.

A sanctuary campus would protect undocumented students from investigations on their migrant status and deportation. It would also allow them access to services around campus, and the rights given to everyone else regardless of their documentation.

“It’s really important to the university because we are such a diverse university.” CSU General Coordinator Lucinda Marshall Kiparissis said. “Embracing the world is one of [the university’s] strategic directions.”

With the motion, the CSU officially endorses the demands of Solidarity Across Borders, a migrant justice network based in Montreal.

Those demands include stopping deportations and detention of non-status people and giving them access to Canada’s health and education system.

The CSU was thinking of bringing this motion to council eventually, but the presence of the Canada Border Services Agency on the downtown campus on Nov. 15 prompted them to push it through as fast as possible. The motion declares that the CSU opposes having the Canadian Border Service Agency on campus and calls on the university not to collaborate with CBSA investigations.

It is currently unclear why exactly CBSA was on campus. Marshall-Kiparissis said that the officer was getting information on a student. University spokesperson Chris Mota, however, said it was a “courtesy visit” to “say hi.”

When The Link reached out to CBSA, its communications advisor, Jacqueline Roby said they “will not speak to specifics.”

In 2011, Concordia’s then-president and vice-chancellor, Frederick Lowy, co-signed a memorandum of understanding with former CBSA president, Luc Portelance. Portelance had previously been appointed Concordia’s Champion under the Deputy Minister University Champion Program. The program, created in 2002, is said to facilitate “collaboration between public servants and university researchers,” according to Concordia’s website.

“Either way we don’t really know what happened,” Marshall-Kiparissis said. “But even if border security was making a visit to get know things, that is ominous and not really a good sign of things that might be able to come.”