A controversial agreement between Transit Police and the Canada Border Services Agency is set to come to an end.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the two groups will be discontinued, according to Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan. She said Transit Police will continue to arrest on outstanding warrants, but “police who encounter undocumented migrants during the course of fare enforcement activities will leave any follow-up action to federal authorities.”
Harsha Walia, co-founder of No One Is Illegal, says they announced the decision at a meeting today with “Transportation Not Deportation”, a group which has been calling for the elimination of the agreement for some time. She said they didn’t explain why the MOU was being discontinued.
“This MOU should never have been in place but now thanks to grassroots community mobilizing including 40 organizations and over 1,500 people who signed our petition, Transit Police has made a commitment to stop enforcing federal immigration policy. Public transit should not be a border checkpoint,” she said.
“It’s a long time coming.”
The MOU came into effect in 1997, and since that time Transit Police have occasionally detained people stopped for fare evasion, who don’t have proper identification, until the CBSA can assist.
In 2013, Transit Police reported 328 people to the CBSA. One of those people was Lucia Vega Jiménez, whose subsequent death in a holding cell prompted a year-long investigation.
Drennan says the change won’t prevent Transit Police from contacting CBSA in the future – but they’ll no longer detain people.
“We will now not hold people for CBSA. We do not want to be seen as agents for CBSA. That’s not our mandate.”