Just as the New York-Quebec border has become the busiest lane way for illegal refugees crossing into Canada from the United States, Montreal is now a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.
Canada’s second-largest city follows Ontario cities Toronto, Hamilton and London where councils have also opted for the dubious status. Montreal’s council unanimously passed the motion Monday night. The council says the motion will mean illegals will have full access to local services– though no one is certain exactly how much protection it affords to “asylum seekers” or whether the city police even have to comply with the resolution since the term has no legal status.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, a former Liberal immigration minister in the Jean Chretien government of the 1990s, told gathered media that the sanctuary city motion was all his idea and prompted by his disagreement with Trump’s policies on immigration and refugees.
“One of the reasons I’ve done that is clearly because of what’s happening in the United States and what I’m witnessing in Europe,” said Coderre, who has previously taunted Trump on Twitter about the importance of diversity.
Message to Donald @POTUS Trump. Montreal proud “Sanctuary City”Newcomers & refugees are welcome.Diversity is our strength and part of ourDNA
— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) January 31, 2017
Even though the border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba has received considerably more media attention, Quebec remains the flashpoint for illegal refugees sneaking across the U.S.-Canada border. In January alone, 452 illegals crossed the border into Quebec, according to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Several other Canadian cities are considering sanctuary city status, including the nation’s capitol in Ottawa, while Toronto — Canada’s largest city — has been a sanctuary city since 2013.
Coderre says the illegal aliens will be fully “integrated” with the city’s programs and buildings and given access to libraries and gyms. The mayor is also keen to broaden the services provided and wants to speak with provincial and federal authorities about free health, housing and education opportunities for the new arrivals.
“The bottom line is to integrate them,” he said. “And if you don’t have a criminal case (or pose a security risk), we will normalize your situation. You will be able to remain here,”
But that’s not enough for most migrants’s rights groups, who told reporters at a news conference following the announcement that the sanctuary city label is a nice gesture but just symbolic.
“He’s coming from a good place, I’m not going to deny that,” said Jaggi Singh, a spokesman for Solidarity Across Borders. “But it doesn’t go far enough.”
Singh suggested that the motion should demand that Montreal police refuse to cooperate with federal authorities — as is the case in the U.S. He noted that as it the motion stood now, police could still enforce the law and hand illegals over to the CBSA.
Singh expressed frustration that illegals can often be deported for even minor infractions while a representative for working prostitutes expressed dismay that “undocumented” women working in massage parlors can be arrested and transferred to immigration officials.
“Honestly, in many ways, having a symbolic motion can be worse than having no motion at all,” said Singh.