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Advocates protest arrest of Thai migrant workers




Hank Daniszewski and Hank Daniszewski


An immigrant advocacy group is protesting the recent arrest of nine Thai migrant workers in Chatham.

Newspaper title

London Free Press

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An immigrant advocacy group is protesting the recent arrest of nine Thai migrant workers in Chatham.

Toronto-based Justicia for Migrant Workers said the Thai workers were picked up March 11 at the request of Canadian Border Services Agency officials.

Chris Ramsaroop, a spokesperson for Justicia for Migrant Workers, said the migrants were arrested because their work permits had expired.

He said the workers have few rights and are only trying to support their families in Thailand.

"Once again the workers are being persecuted, but we are not seeing employers, recruiters and contractors being prosecuted," he said.

Chatham-Kent police confirmed that the group was stopped and detained for a short time on a request relayed by the OPP.

The group was then transferred to the custody of federal immigration officials. Canadian Border Services Agency officials could not be reached for comment.

The migrant labourers had agricultural jobs and had worked in the area for some time, Ramsaroop said. None of the Thai workers spoke English.

The workers, five men and four women, complained their arms and legs were shackled during part of their transfer to an immigration holding centre in Toronto where they are still in custody facing deportation, Ramsaroop said.

The use of temporary foreign workers has expanded rapidly in the past decade, and the advocacy group estimates there are 60,000 in Ontario, he said.

The workers have no status and can be detained and deported as soon as work permits expire or if they're working at a site not designated on their permit, Ramsaroop said.

Workers have little government protection for their working conditions, he said.

"If we are going to have migrant workers, they should have status upon arrival. We have to emphasize the protection of workers over the protection of employers."


Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses