- National organizer for the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants
- Former membership coordinator for the National Lawyers’ Guild
- Anti-war, pro-immigration activist
Born and raised in Toronto in the 1970s, Macdonald “Mac” Scott holds a bachelor’s degree from York University and a paralegal diploma from Humber College. He became an activist at the age of 21, participating in anti-war campaigns and rallying in support of indigenous people’s solidarity. In 1997 Scott began working on immigration-related issues as a volunteer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, an organization that seeks to maximize social-welfare benefits for low-income people in Canada.
In the early 2000s Scott was an organizer for the New York-based Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI), whose aim was to promote labor rights for illegal aliens in the U.S. by confronting what the Coalition called “anti-immigrant policies” through “grassroots education and action.” Scott also served as membership coordinator for the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG), which once named him as its “Legal Worker of the Year.”
In 2002 Scott spoke out against the arrest and imprisonment of Faruk Abdel-Muhti, a Palestinian political activist in Corona, New Jersey. Scott argued that because Abdel-Muhti, as a Palestinian, was technically a man without an official state to call his own, there were no legal grounds for deporting him. Further, CHRI worked to find an immigration lawyer to assist Abdel-Muhti, and then applied for a bond to get the activist released from prison.
In a 2003 piece titled “No One Is Illegal,” posted online by New Socialist magazine, Mac Scott and co-author Sima Zerehi condemned “the increasingly repressive nature” of “the racist, unjust, inhumane immigration system in Canada” which “routinely criminalizes, marginalizes and terrorizes immigrants, refugees and people of colour.” “Since September 11, 2001,” the authors added, “the immigration system has been given a free hand to take whatever measures are deemed necessary to protect ‘national security’.” Moreover, they noted that “these recent attacks on immigrants and refugees in Canada are mirrored in the United States.”
After a joint task force consisting of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) conducted a series of August 14, 2003 raids that resulted in the arrests of 19 Pakistani men living in the Toronto area, Scott and Zerehi accused Canadian authorities of “using ‘national security’ concerns as an excuse” for the commission of egregious injustice against foreign-born Muslims. The authors also complained that “the ‘evidence’ produced by the task force includes the fact that the men lived in ‘clusters of four or five’ and kept a ‘minimum standard of living'” — “conditions that are hardly unique for students or immigrants who are forced to live on very fixed incomes.” Scott and Zerehi further condemned the task force for having “focused on the fact that one of the men is enrolled in a flight school and is studying to become a commercial pilot” — even though at least six of the 9/11 hijackers had received flight training in the United States prior to taking part in the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “Perhaps the most ludicrous factor used as evidence that the men were security threats,” added the authors, “is an RCMP document that refers to the men’s place of origin. The document states that ‘the Punjab province in Pakistan is noted for Sunni extremism,’ thus implying that all residents of the Sunni province are potential terrorists.”
After the Canada Border Services Agency arrested and detained more than 100 migrant workers across Southern Ontario in a series of raids conducted in early April 2009, Scott charged: “The purpose of these raids is to heighten a climate of fear and insecurity in immigrant communities. These raids are part of Canada’s revolving door immigration policy where workers are used and disposed of with little or no rights.”
Scott is a supporter of the “sanctuary movement,” which promotes policies whereby many towns and cities across the United States resolve to protect illegal aliens from law-enforcement and immigration authorities. He currently serves as an immigration law consultant with a Canadian organization called No One Is Illegal, and also with the Ontario-based law firm Carranza LLP. Moreover, Scott maintains active affiliations with the aforementioned Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and with the Law Union of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Refugee Lawyer Association, and the Afghan Refugee Rights Organization.
Lamenting that asylum applicants in Canada usually cannot get an immigration hearing scheduled for several months — during which time they have very limited access to social services — Scott said in October 2017: “My belief is that they’re [Canadian authorities] doing this partially because they want people to get tired, to get exhausted and just give up and go back to wherever they’re from.” Scott also took exception to the fact that the Canadian government generally counted a migrant’s effort to enter the country illegally as a negative consideration when deciding whether or not to grant asylum.
Scott was once a member of the New Socialist Group and has been affiliated with such organizations as Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), the Prison Moratorium Project, and the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist Communists.
Further Reading: “Macdonald Scott” (Carranza.on.ca); “Arrest of Palestinian Activist In Corona Draws Outrage” (Queens Chronicle, 5-2-2002); “No One Is Illegal” (by Mac Scott and Sima Zerehi, New Socialist, 2003); “Over 100 Migrant Workers Arrested; Communities Demand Their Release” (No One Is Illegal-Toronto, 4-4-2009); “Plattsburgh Activist Network Cares for Asylum Seekers in Need” (North Country Public Radio, 10-30-2017).
- “No One Is Illegal” (by Mac Scott and Sima Zerehi, New Socialist, 2003); “Plattsburgh Activist Network Cares for Asylum Seekers in Need” (North Country Public Radio, 10-30-2017).
- “Beyond Radical Social Work: Casework For Change” (by Mac Scott and Lesley Wood, New Socialist); “Mac Scott, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants, Prison Moratorium Project” (The Militant, 1-13-2003); “Migrants End Hunger Strike at Metro West Detention Centre” (Anarkismo.net, 10-5-2005).