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MONTREAL—Around 20 protesters gathered outside of the Immigration and Refugee Board early Wednesday morning to denounce the deportation of Dany Villanueva to Honduras. The demonstration took place outside the Guy Favreau Complex where the 24-year-old Villanueva, who is appealing his deportation, had a hearing that determined his appeal would be pushed to April 4.
The protest, organized by Montréal-Nord Républik, the Coalition Against Police Abuse and Repression, No One Is Illegal Montreal, and Solidarity Across Borders, called for an end to Dany’s deportation order and what they say is “double punishment” experienced by some immigrants in Canada.
“Double punishment is something that especially immigrant youth and youth of colour are facing,” said Robyn Maynard of No One Is Illegal. “They’re already over-targeted and over-prosecuted by the police and having to face criminal repercussions and serve time. But then after this point they still have to go through the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), so they actually have to face the criminal justice system as well as the immigration system.”
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, people who are not Canadian citizens can face deportation if they are convicted of an offence in Canada. Villanueva, a permanent resident since 1998, served his full sentence of 11 months in 2006 for armed robbery. He was since arrested for possessing weapons in 2008 and again this spring on drunk driving and drug charges.
Canada's Border Services Agency (CBSA) began their proceedings to deport Villanueva because of his criminal record in January.
The protest organizers claim that Dany’s role as key witness in the public inquiry into his brother Fredy Villanueva’s death makes the deportation order suspicious. They say it amounts to interference by the CBSA in the coroner’s inquest into Fredy’s death. Fredy was 18-years-old when he died after being shot by a Montreal police officer in August 2008.
“What’s happening to Dany Villanueva is that he had actually committed a crime and served his full sentence in 2006 and didn’t receive his deportation notice until after his family had secured the public inquiry, so we really think that they’re trying to target the Villanueva family for speaking out,” said Maynard. “The timing is very suspect.”
Villanueva’s lawyer Stéphane Handfield also called the timing of the authorities’ decision “strange,” but the IRB says it opened a deportation file on Villaneuva a full month before Fredy was killed.
Sarita Ahooja of Solidarity Across Borders claims the deportation order is just an extension of the racism for which police officers in Montreal-Nord have come under scrutiny. Internal reports on alleged racial profiling by Montreal police were recently leaked and accepted as evidence in the coroner’s inquest into the shooting of Fredy.
“Double punishment is racial profiling,” Ahooja said. “The youth of cultural communities suffer profiling, criminalization, and if they are not citizens, deportation. It’s institutionalized racism against the young and the poor in our cultural communities. Their existence is criminalized. It’s inhumane.”
The demonstrators were accompanied by the Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, an anarchist marching band, into the building. Most were prevented from attending the hearing.
This article was originally published in The Link newspaper.