Transit Police and border officers no longer working in tandem
The two agencies worked together to detain people wanted for immigration violations
Renee Bernard News 1130 February 20, 2015 9:48 pm
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – An arrangement between Transit Police and the Canada Borders Services Agency which facilitated the arrest of people who might be here illegally has been discontinued.
Transit Police will no longer hold people wanted by border officers.
When Transit Police encounter someone who is evading fare but doesn’t produce any local ID, the Canada Border Services Agency is often called upon to try to identify that person, which is often when their status in the country is revealed.
Anne Drennan with Transit Police says from now on when a fare evader can’t produce ID, Canada Border Services could still be contacted in attempts to identify that person.
“If during the course of our inquiries, we were advised that Canada Border Services had an interest in the person, they can certainly move forward in their investigation, but we wouldn’t hold the person for border officers to take them into custody.”
She says the policy was reversed after consulting with groups such as Transportation not Deportation, following the death of Mexican national Lucia Jimenez over a year ago.
“People should feel they can use transportation without the fear of being arrested and deported as a result of getting involved in a fare check,” says Drennan.
Omar Chu with Transportation not Deportation says Transit Police should never be obligated to enforce federal immigration policy.
“Transit Police were carrying out immigration investigations on behalf of the CBSA. And this was creating fear among certain portions of our community who were afraid of riding transit.”
Jimenez hanged herself while in Canada Border Services custody, after getting picked up for fare evasion by Transit Police, and having her identification verified by border officers.
Chu says she wouldn’t have been put in that situation, had she been able to produce valid ID for the transit officers who were issuing her fine.
“One of our demands is that a wide range of ID be accepted for Transit Police. We could have expired immigration papers or foreign papers without police having to go to the CBSA to validate identity.”
The relationship between the two agencies was a useful one for border agents. Chu says half of the border agencies referrals were coming from transit police.