It has been a year since the migrant workers’ network launched the call for full and permanent immigration status for all, and we have pushed the federal government to create immigration pathways that have resulted in status for some. But the vast majority of working-class, racialized and particularly undocumented people are shut out of permanent resident status. As a result, they are without income support, workplace rights and even access to healthcare in a pandemic. They live under the threat of deportation.
Earlier in May, the federal government created a path for 90,000 people to apply for permanent resident status. Prime Minister Trudeau’s government now says that they have done enough even though the vast majority of working-class, racialized and particularly undocumented people are shut out of permanent resident status. As a result, we are without income support, workplace rights and even access to healthcare in a pandemic. We live under the threat of deportation. Migrants and allies must take swift action across the country to call for Status for All. The door has been opened a crack, we must push to make space for all of us.
The Migrant Rights Network released a report earlier this year with a snapshot of 3,000 of their migrant members who filled out a survey about the new short-term immigration pilot program announced on April 14th. That report revealed that 45.4% of migrant workers and 34.5% of international graduates that filled out the survey are also excluded from the new program. An additional 48.27% of international graduates and 45.4% of migrant workers do not have the language test results required to apply for this first-come, first-served program. (In addition, 1.18 million undocumented residents, refugees, students and migrants in Quebec are not allowed to apply.)
This is unfair and unjust and that’s exactly why we are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure permanent resident status for all migrant and undocumented people in the country, and ensure that all working class migrants that arrive in the future do so with permanent resident status. The current program must be expanded to include everyone without permanent status; all caps and the 6-month window must be removed. Any other inadmissibility requirements must also be removed, and the application fees waived for low-wage workers.
The announcement of the new program has created a wave of chaos and confusion over migrant and undocumented communities across the country that is being exploited by bad actors:
- Language testing centres and agents profiting:
- Bad employers taking advantage
- Travelling no matter the cost: Canada has closed its borders to many migrants. Flights are also suspended from Mexico, Caribbean countries, India and Pakistan. Migrants must be in Canada to apply. As a result, many are buying expensive last-minute tickets, transiting through multiple countries, with a greater risk of COVID to get around flight restrictions simply to make it back in time to apply. Many recruiters, agents and unscrupulous immigration consultants are promising “special letters”, at very high prices, that migrants can show at the airport to be allowed in, most of which are fake
- Lack of information: Since the initial announcement on April 14th, the federal government has not provided any further information about the details of the application or the documents required. Hundreds of thousands have had questions that have not been answered, and it has fallen to migrant-led organizations like ours to fill the gap. Meanwhile, unscrupulous recruiters, agents, immigration consultants and lawyers are spreading misinformation and promising miracles for high fees. Those particularly being targeted are undocumented people, refugees and low-wage workers, including those without access to the internet, or high levels of English and French literacy.
- Fees are higher than ever: While details of fees have not been announced, a permanent resident application costs $1,135 per application, and $1,945.00 for a 2 parent, 2 children family. Immigration consultants on average are advertising $4,000 to do applications, with some asking for much more. Getting documents from overseas or renewing them also costs money
- COVID-19 barriers to getting documentation: Immigration applications require extensive documentation, including police clearances, educational transcripts, valid passports, etc. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage countries in the Global South, in particular, getting such documents is incredibly difficult. This particular program requires that migrants must have all documents assembled to apply with at the same time. Applicants from richer countries (Europe, USA, etc.) where government bureaucracies continue to function and embassies remain open have a significant advantage.
We then demand: STATUS FOR ALL
- This means everyone in the country without permanent resident status must be regularized and given permanent resident status immediately. This includes all low-waged residents including migrant workers, study permit holders, refugee claimants, people who were ordered deported as failed refugees, people who lost their status because of exclusions for criminality, people who overstayed their visas, and who entered Canada without a permit.
- All people who come to Canada in the future must have permanent resident status on arrival. Migrants in low-waged occupations currently coming into Canada through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Caregiver Program, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and other programs with work authorization permits, as well as refugees and individuals on study permits, should be able to come to Canada as permanent residents if they so choose, and be able to bring their families with them.
What can you do?
- Sign the petition on https://migrantrights.ca/status-for-all/
- Send a letter to the federal government or call PM Trudeau
- Take a photo with your family and post a message to Justin Trudeau: Unite All Families! Status for All!. Make sure to tag @MigrantRightsCA
- For more information, you can also contact the Migrant Rights Network Executive Director Syed Hussan: