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Out to change 'regressive' immigration system

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Chantal Persad, 18, right, of No One Is Illegal, hands out flyers during frosh week at the University of Toronto Sept. 5, 2008. Listening to her speak are Elaina Amaral, 18, left, and Alexis Cavaliere, 18Chantal Persad, 18, right, of No One Is Illegal, hands out flyers during frosh week at the University of Toronto Sept. 5, 2008. Listening to her speak are Elaina Amaral, 18, left, and Alexis Cavaliere, 18 (Photo: Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)Groups step up pressure on parties to put refugee and immigrant issues high on political agenda

October 01, 2008 - The Toronto Star
Nicholas Keung

Weeks before this summer's Status for All rally in Toronto, Sultana Jahangir knocked on apartment doors in Crescent Town urging neighbours to march in solidarity with migrants and refugees.

This spring, after Ottawa tabled the controversial immigration reform bill, Faria Kamal handed out flyers and helped organize public forums in opposition to the changes.

And in January, when a failed refugee claimant, a quadriplegic, was due for deportation, Gurratan Singh Dhaliwal helped organize a protest in his Sikh community.

Jahangir is a Toronto community worker and mother; Kamal, a clinical psychology postgraduate student from Markham, and Dhaliwal, a Mississauga law student. All are part of a grassroots social movement spreading across the GTA and other Canadian cities to put immigrant and refugee issues high on the political agenda.

Family loses bid to stay in Canada

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Sept. 22, 2008 - The Mississauga News

A Bangladeshi immigrant who writes for a Mississauga-based ethnic newspaper and owns a house in the city faces being deported along with his wife and university-aged son after a crackdown by the federal government on illegal immigration.

Badrul and Shammi Alam and their son, Saad, lost their bid for refugee status in 2004. They had launched two appeals, one based on compassionate grounds, the other on fear of persecution. Both were unsuccessful.

"It's not a fair decision but I understand we have to go back," said Badrul Alam. His appeal was based on the risk of harm because of his Jatiya Party connections in Bangladesh.

While Alam says he understands why he and his wife must leave Canada, he was hoping his son could stay.

"We would only like the authorities to let my son finish his education," he said.

Nanny sent to work as underpaid servant

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Nanny Catherine Manuel tells of her illegal work in Canada
September 22, 2008 - The Toronto Star
Dale Brazao

Catherine Manuel came to Canada as a live-in nanny to care for 8-year-old Brent of Toronto.

She ended up changing beds, cleaning toilets and painting the decks at the Whispering Pines bed and breakfast in Jackson's Point, on the shores of Lake Simcoe.

Manuel was promised about $420 a week to care for young Brent, with weekends and holidays off. Instead, she was underpaid and worked "morning, noon and night" as a cleaner, servant and handywoman.

Brent and his mother never surfaced. Today, four months after she arrived in Canada, Manuel wonders if they really exist.

On her days off, the skilled caregiver was driven to Toronto to clean the townhouse belonging to the innkeeper's boyfriend, a part-time lecturer at York University.

Big promises, broken dreams

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Nurses, nannies, labourers willing to pay big bucks sought out his services, desperate to get to Canada
August 31, 2008 - The Toronto Star
Dale Brazao

The Saturday Star detailed the growing problem of human trafficking of foreign workers to Canada. In one case, dubbed the Elmvale 11, a group of skilled Filipino workers came to Canada last summer on promises of good jobs, but ended up forced to work as modern-day slaves. The Star found lax government rules and unscrupulous labour recruiters at the heart of the problem.

Canada has been very, very good to Imtazur Nasser Rahman.

Fresh from a second bankruptcy – leaving his creditors on the hook for $114,000 – he zips around the GTA doing business in a $125,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

He previously drove a Lexus 330 SUV, also leased after declaring bankruptcy.

Exploited workers Canada's 'slave trade'

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Skilled Filipino workers packed into filthy house, denied pay, threatened with deportation
August 30, 2008 - The Toronto Star
Dale Brazao

It was 5:30 in the morning when Edwin Canilang realized he had been bought and sold.

Crowded in the back of a van heading north of Toronto with four other Filipino men last summer, the skilled welder faced another unpaid day on a cleanup detail at a bottling plant.

He thought of his wife, who had just given birth to their third child back home in San Carlos, a five-hour drive north of Manila.

He thought of the promises that lured him to Canada – $23 an hour, plus overtime, food and lodging, to help build two icebreakers for the Canadian Arctic.

He thought of his first week in Canada, eight men in the basement of a Toronto house sleeping four to a bed, their passports taken from them. Then they were trucked north to their new home – a filthy, abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

Woman tired of hiding in church sanctuary

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But she's afraid deportation to Nigeria will mean genital mutilation
Sept. 14, 2008 - Sun Media
Tom Godfrey

A Nigerian mom who's been hiding in a Port Credit church for two years in her bid to avoid deportation and possible female circumcision says her sanctuary has now become a prison .

Ola Akinwalere, 44, and her Canadian-born daughter, Alice, 12, say they face gender mutilation if removed to Lagos, where a form of female circumcision is exercised by some tribal clans.

"I am most worried about my daughter," Akinwalere said from a tiny apartment in the basement of Trinity Anglican Church on Stavebank Rd., near Lakeshore and Mississauga Rds. "I cannot take my daughter back to Nigeria with me."

She claims never to have collected welfare during her 18 years in Canada and upgraded her education to become a social worker.

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