Solidarity Across Borders stages airport action, demands end to deportations

Photo by Ion Etxebarria, Concordia University Television (CUTV)

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On Saturday, June 4, Solidarity Across Borders organized an action at Montreal's Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport to demand permanent legal status for all migrants, an end to deportations of migrants, and open borders. Solidarity Across Borders is calling the event "Borders are Bonkers."

Rosalind Wong, a Solidarity Across Borders member and one of the event's organizer, told rabble that members and allies of the group arrived at the airport at approximately 2:15pm.

The group gathered in the airport's international departures area. A protestor dressed up as a flight attendant "welcomed everyone on board Air Solidarity Across borders, and in a playful way introduced our presence in the airport," Wong told rabble.

The protestors handed out fake customs declarations cards with questions that "asked people to reflect on the privilege they had of being able to cross a border safely, with relative ease, and even without much thought," Wong explained. The questions also asked people to reflect on their ability to access health care, emergency services, shelter, and the justice system, which are tied to legal status.

The Montreal Anarchist Marching Band played Tiken Jah Fakoly's popular protest song Ouvrez les frontieres while protestors sang and held banners and posters with the slogans "not one more deportation," "open the borders," and "status now."

Claire Abraham, a member of one of the other bands that played, Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, told rabble in a text message that "it can be difficult to talk about the violence of borders, the violence of deportations in a way that doesn't isolate you."

Music was an integral part of Saturday's action because "when you see 50 brass and musicians in tutus singing and playing a song about opening borders, I think it's hard not to feel curious."

After about 15 minutes of singing, the protestors began walking towards the international arrivals area. Wong told rabble that police "surrounded us and didn't want us to go anywhere," so the group decided to stage the second portion of the action, a short play, in the international departures area as well. No arrests were made.

A child dressed up as a butterfly ran around the area and another protestor played a customs officer and talked to the group about "what happens when this beautiful butterfly wants to move, when people want to move to seek food, to seek shelter, to seek better conditions, and then what happens when there are forces that try to restrain and control that movement," Wong explained.

Wong told rabble that after the short play, the group moved outside and continued to chant and sing a song with the lyrics "migration is movement and movement is human."

"It's great that people feel great about travelling or being greeted after travel, but for others that we know, the airport is a place of extreme fear," Wong said about their choice of the airport for this action.

Solidarity Across Borders is demanding an end to deportations and status for all migrants, which Wong says are "closely tied" and "are an example of the state's violence against people that it chooses to marginalize and dehumanize."

The group is also calling for open borders, because  "borders are deadly and many have died and will continue to die, because like butterflies, humans will move. You can fortify your borders as much as you want, but humans will continue to move to seek better conditions for them and for their loved ones. They will move to escape conditions of oppression of poverty, of hopelessness, and that's why we're demanding an end to that violence," Wong concluded.

The action forms part of Solidarity Across Borders' a month-long series of actions "June: Month Against Borders and Deportations."

Sophia Reuss is a Montreal-based writer, editor, and is a recent graduate of McGill University. She's interested in how online media and journalism facilitate public accessibility and conversation. Sophia also writes and edits for the Alternatives International Journal.

Photo by Ion Etxebarria, Concordia University Television (CUTV)

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