TORONTO – Toronto has joined the likes of Chicago, New York City and San Francisco in becoming Canada’s first “sanctuary city” — a place where anyone can can access city services, regardless of immigration status.
The decision was made at City Hall Thursday night, after councillors debated on whether to extend city services to the estimated 100,000-200,000 to undocumented immigrants (those whose visas have expired) in the city.
With this decision, non-status residents will be able to access city services without the fear of being detained and or deported.
“Non-status” refers to people who were legally allowed into the country but are overstaying their visas, or those who didn’t get refugee status and are dodging deportation.
However, it doesn’t mean they have access to provincial services like welfare of housing, but it does mean they will be able to access all of the services the city offers.
Only three councillors voted against it, including deputy mayor Doug Holyday and Public Works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong.
Minnan-Wong said that it sends a message to the world that “it’s OK to break the law to come to Canada and it says the city is an accomplice to this law-breaking.”