The “Right Thing to Do” is Status for All!
Migrants and their supporters marched in Montreal on Sunday to hold the federal government to its promise of a regularization programme for undocumented migrants in Canada, calling for a fully inclusive, ongoing regularization programme that leaves no one behind.
In response to years of mobilization, in December 2021 Justin Trudeau mandated the current federal Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, to regularize undocumented migrants. In an interview published last week, Fraser committed to making good on this mandate, because “it is the right thing to do.”
“Regularization is indeed the right thing to do,” said Mamadou, an undocumented organizer with Solidarity Across Borders (SAB). “But no half measures or exclusionary criteria. We all need equal access to status!” Migrant-led organizations like SAB and the Migrant Rights Network are calling for a simple and accessible regularization program without barriers like excessive paperwork or exclusions and inadmissibilities.
An estimated 500,000 migrants live in Canada without a valid permit (“undocumented”) because of Canada’s unjust and violent border system. They are our neighbours, our co-workers, they are part of our communities - but are not recognized as persons by the Canadian state. Undocumented migrant Andres shared his frustration: “I have travelled through 5 different countries,” he said, “all just to try to find a safe place where my wife and I can live, where my kids can grow up. I can’t believe that once again we are forced to live in hiding.”
“Being undocumented leaves migrants vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in their workplaces,” commented Mostafa Henaway from the Immigrant Workers’ Centre (IWC). “Regularization means the freedom to organize and defend our rights like anyone else.”
The call for status for all is supported by 483 different organizations across Canada, including Quebec’s Ligue des droits et libertés (LDL). “We’re calling for a comprehensive, ongoing program of regularization for all undocumented people in Quebec and Canada, explained LDL President Alexandra Pierre. “It is possible to do it, in our opinion, because we know Canada and Quebec have already done it. Of course in piecemeal fashion, and certainly imperfectly, but without great administrative difficulty or harmful consequences. It’s time to follow through and propose a broad, universal program that leaves no one behind.”
Photo by André Querry