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‘Rescued’ Mexican citizens could be worse off after Ontario police raids last month, advocate warns


Migrant workers “rescued” in anti-trafficking raids in Canada could feel worse, and could even be kicked out of the country or imprisoned, one advocate says. .

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Coalition for Change, commented to CBC News this week after the Mexican consulate in Toronto said more than 60 Mexicans had been arrested in two raids. by police in Ontario last month.

It is not clear where or how they are currently located as the consulate will not provide any further details about the raids or the status of the alleged victims. But Hussan says from previous experience, raids by their owners or homes do not always benefit migrant workers.

“They lost their income, lost their belongings and couldn’t get any other pay back. They were often deported. In some cases, they were jailed,” Hussan said in an interview.

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Union of Canada, says federal immigration policy is the root cause of the crisis with migrant workers. (CBC)

Even when there are abuses related to a worker’s employment, wages or living arrangements, Hussan says negotiating with the employer, civil action or complaint with the Ontario Department of Labor can can provide better solutions.

“The police don’t have the ability to take money from the employer and give it to you,” he said.

Ultimately, according to Hussan, workers are best served by changes to labor and immigration laws that will give them more rights and more pathways to legal immigration status.

“The language we use, which the prostitution movement also uses, is ‘We want rights, not rescue’,” he added.

Authorities are tight-lipped about September raids

According to a Spanish-language statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry tweeted on October 5 by the Mexican consulate in Toronto, 49 Mexican nationals were “rescued” in an abandoned warehouse during a raid. by the police on September 22.

The raid occurred either north of Toronto or north of the city. Exact location is not provided and is not clear in the language of the release. It also did not say which police agency carried out the raid.

The Mexican Consulate will not answer any questions or provide any specific information about the raid or those involved.

The statement said Mexicans may be victims of human trafficking and labor exploitation and said they were being asked for consular assistance.

CBC News has contacted Global Affairs Canada in response to the incident. The federal department responded by saying, “We believe your query will be best handled by your local regulator.”

The Canadian Red Cross confirms that it has provided assistance, including safe accommodation, meals and personal services. The organization said it would not provide further details out of respect for Mexicans’ privacy.

Another news release tweeted by the consulate on October 3 said 14 Mexican women were found in a home in Thorold, Ont., following a raid by Niagara Regional Police.

The statement said the women were workers and probably victims of human trafficking. It says they have been turned over to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and provided consular assistance.

An alleged illegal cannabis trade was discovered by Niagara Regional Police in Protect Gateway. (Niagara Regional Police Department)

As with the September 22 raid, the consulate will not provide further details about the Mexicans involved, including their current status or location. The CBSA has yet to respond to questions from CBC Toronto about the incident.

When asked about both the raids and the Mexican nationals involved, Niagara Regional Police directed CBC Toronto to provide information released late last month on the multi-area organized crime investigation. 10-month legal project called Project Gateway.

On September 14, Niagara Police said raids were underway at several locations across southern Ontario, including Thorold.

Along with drug trafficking, cross-border smuggling and other criminal activities, police allege that the suspects also employ foreign workers at cannabis production sites and hotels.

However, out of the myriad of charges the 20 suspects are facing, none are directly related to human trafficking.

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