PROFILING BY IMMIGRATION STATUS
The CCR recently noticed that a Canadian newspaper article contained an
irrelevant and prejudicial reference to a person’s immigration status,
even though it had no bearing on the story. (It labelled an
accused killer as a sponsored refugee). This practice unfairly
associates a whole class of immigrants with the alleged wrongdoing of
one individual, and should be as unacceptable as making irrelevant
reference to a person’s race.
In response, the CCR sent the letter below to major media outlets in
Canada and Québec, asking them to adopt a policy prohibiting
prejudicial references to a person’s immigration status (or how they
came to Canada) when such references are irrelevant. We encourage
you to ask your local media to adopt such a policy.
To Media outlet- contact
We are writing to ask
whether (MEDIA OUTLET) has a policy about identifying people by
status. If you do not, we urge you to
consider adopting a policy prohibiting prejudicial references to a
immigration status or how they came to Canada when such references are
It is now well-accepted that
it is wrong for media to make prejudicial identifications by race. Labelling criminal suspects or others accused
of wrong-doing as “black” or “Asian”, for example, reflects and
racism, and is thankfully a practice that has now been largely
discontinued. Unfortunately, we still
see identifications by immigration status, even though such a practice
and promotes xenophobia and racism, by unfairly associating a whole
immigrants with the alleged wrongdoing of one individual.
For example, one Canadian
paper recently published an article, under the headline “Accused killer
sponsored refugee”, that prominently identified a person accused of
murder as a
government-sponsored refugee, without showing that this fact was in any
relevant to the murder. Given popular
prejudices about immigrants and refugees, such an identification can
readers to associate refugees with crimes, just as labelling an accused
as “black” promotes a false association between race and crime.
We hope that you share our
concerns in this matter, and look forward to hearing your response. We would of course be happy to discuss the
matter with you further.