Since May 28, international students facing deportation and their supporters have been holding a 24-hour permanent protest outside the Canada Border Services Agency offices in Mississauga, Ontario. Spring was able to interview Lovepreet Singh, one of the people under threat of deportation, about the protesters’ demands, what these young people are facing, and how others can show solidarity.
Could you tell us a bit about why you are protesting?
We are here today because for the last two weeks, we have been doing a 24 hour protest against the deportation of international students. After many years, immigration is saying these international students entered Canada on fraudulent documents. But they were completely unaware of that.
These students were victims of fraud back home, their immigration agents did the fraud and put in the fraudulent offer letters. Some of the students didn’t get their fee back from the agent. I spent $7,000 and never got it back. We already lost many things back home when the agent defrauded us, and now we are getting deported here. This is an outrageous injustice and re-victimization of the students. That’s why we are here.
We are fighting against injustice. We demand the government stop the deportations of all the impacted students immediately and do a proper investigation. While the investigation happens the government should issue work permits to the students so they can work here. And when the investigation is completed, if they find the students didn’t have any direct involvement the inadmissibility designation should be revoked and the government should issue a proper pathway to permanent residency.
To all the people who say “deport them, they deserve a punishment:” I just want to say, we have already received punishment. For the last many months or years, these students never slept at night peacefully. The process we are going through is a punishment. It’s an injustice if the government decides to deport everybody.
It was good news that my deportation got postponed, but we have to remember that it’s not cancelled yet. The battle is pending. We have to fight more in order to get what we deserve. So the next step is, we have requested the government revoke the inadmissibility designation.
How has your life changed since you were told that you were going to be deported?
It is like the dream has shattered. Sponsoring education here in Canada is very expensive. My parents have sacrificed all their life savings just to sponsor my education here, so I can get a better future in Canada. And then we got the news they are going to deport me on June 13. So, my dream was shattered.
How important has community organizing been for you and for the other students?
This is very important because students alone can do nothing. We need support from the community. I want to thank Khalsa Aid Canada and the World Sikh Organization. They stepped forward to help the students. Without these organizations, we can do nothing. So I just want to say thanks to them too. They have been our well wishers while this protest has been going on.
What are your demands for the government?
The demands to the government have been very clear from day one. We need to stop the deportations immediately. The next thing, we want the inadmissibility [designation] revoked. And [the government has] to provide a pathway so that we can apply for permanent residency.
How can people show their support?
People can show their support by coming here, joining the protests. Every single day from 7pm, we get together, we do speeches. We try to have all the students connect with the community and tell their problems, what they’re facing and why they are here. This is the most important thing.
If the community doesn’t know what you’re fighting for, there’s no point to coming here. [The protest] is a medium for the students so they can connect to the community and convey their message to the community, what they’re feeling, how they’re feeling, and what kind of help they need from the community.
This fight is not for the Punjabi international students, this fight is for all the international students from any community. This is a fight against injustice. So we have to understand that it’s not a fight only from the Punjab international students. This is a fight against injustice.
And so I have a humble request to every single international student. It doesn’t matter from which ethnicity or which culture or which country you came from. If you think this is an injustice, come here and join us. We have to join our hands so that we can raise our voices against this injustice.
Supporters are encouraged to attend the current protest happening at 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, ON, outside the Canada Border Services Agency offices.
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