Montreal Protesters Demand Open Borders
March Held for Status Regularization and End to Deportation
“Immigrants in, racists out!” was the chant of the day for those who participated in the Status for All march Sunday afternoon.
About 150 demonstrators began their route just before 3 p.m. in Nelson Mandela Park and made their way through the borough of Côte-des-Neiges, chanting and singing songs as they walked along Victoria Ave. and Côte-des-Neiges Rd.
The demonstration is held every year by Solidarity Across Borders and other migrants’ justice groups. They want to see an end to the deportation of undocumented immigrants, and want status regularization for migrants and refugees.
“We are demanding status for all,” said Nazim Elnur, an activist with the non-profit organization End Poverty Now who gave a speech before the march. “Meaning, all people living without citizenship or permanent residency can stay with full rights and dignity.”
Morale was high despite the heat and humidity, and a marching band brought music to accompany the chants of the crowd. Many brought their children along, and police presence was minimal.
Though the demonstration has taken place every year since 2004, this year’s march took on a more pointed meaning for the participants due to the rise of far-right groups and Montreal’s recent declaration that designates Montreal as a sanctuary city.
“We’ve seen in the past few months a lot of concerning rhetoric, the rise—the normalization of the far-right and explicit fortification and the continuation of attacks against migrants.” – Rosalind Wong, spokesperson for Solidarity Across Borders.
“We’ve seen in the past few months a lot of concerning rhetoric, the rise—the normalization of the far-right and explicit fortification and the continuation of attacks against migrants,” said Rosalind Wong, spokesperson for Solidarity Across Borders. “We really needed to hear from people who are directly facing borders who are asking not for little gifts and symbolic gestures, like the Montreal sanctuary city declaration, but for real change, for structural change, for open borders, and so that’s why we took to the streets today.”
On Feb 20, Montreal’s city council voted unanimously in favour of becoming a sanctuary city, ensuring that undocumented people have access to basic services. However, migrants’ justice groups like Solidarity Across Borders argue that without more concrete measures put in place, Montreal’s new sanctuary city designation will have little effect on the lives of undocumented immigrants.
The demonstration also included speeches by activists from different organizations, including one by two women from the Non-Status Women’s Collective, who wore masks and took on pseudonyms because of the risk of deportation.
“We, the women and mothers without status, we work and live in the shadows, we are invisible,” they said in Spanish. “We live in fear because of our immigration status.”
The march concluded back at Nelson Mandela Park, where marchers participated in activities, including the smashing of a “border” piñata, which was in the shape of a wall.