Callout for autonomous actions against the Laval Migrant Prison, Quebec, Canada. Between November 23rd and December 7th, we are calling for autonomous actions to block the construction of the new migrant prison in Laval.
Under the pretext of improving detention conditions for migrants, the Canadian Border Services Agency has been given a huge government budget to develop “alternatives” to detention and to build two new migrant prisons. While the state uses words like “humanized” and “alternatives” to describe their project, we know this is merely an expansion of the prison and border systems. The so-called “alternatives” and the new prisons serve the same purpose: to expand the CBSA’s capacity for border enforcement and immigration policing, to imprison and deport migrants and to rip people away from their families and communities. One of these prisons will be built in Laval on land owned by the Correctional Services of Canada, ostensibly replacing the existing migrant detention center. Two architectural firms have been contracted to build this project: Lemay (based in St. Henri, Montreal) and Groupe A (Quebec City). Work has already begun on the site of the future prison.
We know that borders are conflict zones. The global upswing of far-right fascist movements sets the stage for intense violence and repression against migrants. Currently, a migrant caravan of between 5,000 to 7,000 people has been making its way through the Americas. People facing dire conditions have had no other choice but to leave home for the uncertainty of elsewhere. This movement of people has whipped up reactionary imaginations amongst white nationalists and the far-right. Trump has deployed troops to the US-Mexico border and has vowed to use military force should one migrant so much as throw a rock at military personnel. Meanwhile, Canada continues to incarcerate migrants indefinitely, while purporting to build more “humane” detention centres. Many have died in Canadian migrant prisons, and Canada plans to soon increase its deportation rate by 25% to 30%.
We can’t separate the new migrant prison from the role of Canadian penitentiaries in imprisoning Indigenous people resisting colonization for centuries. We can’t separate it from the early jails that imprisoned Black people resisting slavery, that continue to imprison Black people at high rates today. We think of all those who have died in prison and who continue to die in prison and those resisting prisons around the world. Inspired by those crossing borders in the migrant caravan, by the migrant hunger strikers in Lindsey, Ontario resisting the National Immigration Detention Framework, by prisoners rioting against immiserating conditions in the Eastern Arctic Baffin Correctional Centre, by the recent prison strike of 2018 and the solidarity it saw across the continent, we make a call for autonomous actions from November 23rd to December 7th to stop this migrant prison from being built.