Legal Assistance Windsor offers help to those arrested for possible immigration violations

Legal Assistance Windsor is trying to reach out to people who were arrested in the Leamington area last Tuesday for possible violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Several people were arrested Tuesday for possible violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Legal Assistance of Windsor is attempting to contact people who were arrested Tuesday for possible violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Legal Assistance Windsor is trying to reach out to people who were arrested in the Leamington area last Tuesday for possible violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

"It is very difficult to many of them to access a lawyer," said Johanna Dennie, a lawyer at Legal Assistance Windsor.

"Unless they get in touch with someone that can advise them of their legal rights, they could be deported from Canada without ever having been able to exercise their rights."

Dennie says some of those rights include applying for refugee status, if a person is at risk when returning to their native country.

However, once the court procedures have started, there is an exclusion order made against the individual and they no longer can make a refugee claim, a rule that Dennie says is often not communicated to the detainee.
Johanna Dennie, a lawyer at Legal Assistance Windsor, is trying to inform those detained of their rights. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

Immigrants can also fill out a humanitarian and compassionate application if they have been in Canada for years.

"If people are picked up, put into detention and have no access to the outside, they will most likely be removed without any of that information," she said.

Canada Border Services Agency confirmed to CBC News that an investigation was conducted at a business, which resulted in arrests last week.

Migrant workers have 'limited rights'

This case is not particularly unusual according to Shelley Gilbert, the co-ordinator of social work services at Legal Assistance Windsor.

"They have limited rights under the Employment Standards Act, they have very limited ability to articulate what exactly has happened to them and so very often there is no opportunity for them to tell their story," Gilbert said.

She believes this is part of a larger issue regarding the way society treats migrant workers.

"Communities need to recognize just how isolated temporary foreign workers are in their communities and really open their doors," she said.

"These are individuals that are paying their taxes, who are contributing to the economies and want to be a part of the community here."