CANADA, June 14, 2020 — Over 40 migrant, refugee and undocumented led groups and allies are launching a call for full immigration status for all today. Thousands are expected to join digital rallies and caravans as COVID-19 continues to threaten migrant and undocumented lives and livelihoods. Following the deaths of two farmworkers in Ontario, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to “do better”. Already, the federal cabinet is considering regularizing some asylum seekers working in healthcare in Quebec. The Migrant Rights Network – Canada’s largest migrant justice coalition – is calling for regularization and full immigration status for all non-permanent residents in the country to give migrants the ability to protect and care for themselves and their families during the pandemic. Migrants in the future must also come with full rights. Full Immigration Status for All is necessary for a full and just recovery from COVID-19.
“We hear more farm workers have COVID-19. Our health and safety is at risk. Our housing and work conditions make it so that if one person falls sick, everyone will fall sick. But we don’t have safe ways to complain without the threats of being fired, deported, and banned from coming back. There have already been two deaths, Bonifacio and Rogelio. More deaths will keep happening, so we won’t stop fighting. We come to Canada for a better life, not to die. No more deaths, No more family separation! Permanent resident status now!” – Clarke, Jamaican migrant farmworker, Niagara, Migrant Workers Alliance.
“They call us caregivers, but this is not true. We are care workers. We raise your family. We prepare your children for the future and help the elderly live with dignity. We work too many hours, yet we are the lowest paid. Sometimes we work extra hours and we are not paid at all. But we are separated from our families.” – Winnie Waithira, migrant careworker, Toronto, Caregivers Action Centre.
“Me and my husband work in cleaning and construction. We know our work is essential to this economy. We are joining our fellow migrants – care workers, farm workers, all of us without status – because we are all valuable, we all want a better future, and we all deserve status.” – Laura Lopez, Undocumented construction worker, Vancouver, Sanctuary Health.
“We’re tired of crying in silence and counting our failures while the system holds us down. We’re tired of hiding and living in the shadows. We’re tired of hiding from the police. We’re tired of seeing families divided because of a simple lack of status. We’re tired of not being able to take care of ourselves when we get sick. We’re tired of the guilty silence of certain media and of Justin Trudeau and his government, on the injustices forced upon people without status. We are tired of being tired. People without status and asylum seekers didn’t wait for COVID-19 to become essential workers. We were essential yesterday, we’re essential today.” – Mamadou, Undocumented young man, Montreal, Solidarity Across Borders.
“If I have status, I have power to fight for my rights. If I have status, I have power to support myself. If I have status, My complaint will not be delayed. We are not alone. Our voices need to be heard. Our rights need to be respected. Sex work is work. This is my choice. It doesn’t matter where I work. Immigration law should not punish us!” – Mika, undocumented massage parlour worker who has been in Canada sixteen years, Toronto, Butterfly.
“Let us unite and fight for our right to Status! Let our voices thunder across Canada and be heard in the halls of parliament. Let us stand strong and invincible! For we migrant workers are at the backbone of this country! We deserve decent work and equal rights! We need status for all!” – Marisol Bobadilla, former temporary foreign worker, Toronto, Migrante Canada.
“We, the invisible, grow the fruit and vegetables you eat and even the flowers on your table, but we lack the choice to leave bad jobs and resist the injustices inflicted upon us by abusive employers who treat us like slaves. I think that Canada owes us something and that this is the opportunity for it to pay its debt by giving us Permanent residence.” – Luis, Migrant Farmworker who has been coming to Canada for over 20 years, Niagara, Migrant Workers Alliance.
“As international students, we pay three to four times in tuition fees. We are excluded from most of the student scholarships and government grants. We work in essential services while being paid below minimum wage. But when it comes to services and support, we are excluded. We won’t have a just and humane community, unless all of us have the rights that we deserve, unless we all have full and immigration status. ” – Rahil Adeli, International Student, Vancouver, Migrant Students United.
“We are not here to steal anyone’s job. We are working like any other worker. Pay taxes everyone else pays into. But why are we second class workers? Workers without any rights. The work that we do are not temporary jobs. They are permanent jobs. Putting food on Canadian tables are not temporary jobs. Cleaning Canadian workplaces and homes are not temporary jobs. Taking care of Canadian children and elderly are not temporary jobs. We believe it is just to ask for health care, to ask for a living wage like everybody else. It is just to ask for permanent status for all of us,” Edelyn Royo, Migrant Worker, Edmonton, Migrante Alberta.
- At least 1 in 23 people in Canada are migrants, without citizenship rights.
- Migrants are on various study, work or humanitarian permits, or without documentation at all.
- Many migrants are excluded from universal healthcare, access to federal income support, and decent work. Many are separated from their families.
- Migrants are unable to fully protect themselves during COVID-19 because of lack of income, or because speaking out about unsafe work and housing conditions can result in deportation.
- Read more on migrant priorities during COVID-19 at https://migrantrights.ca/covid19/, and more on Status for All at https://migrantrights.ca/statusforall/
- On June 14, 2020 (all times EST):
- 11:45am: Migrant Students Online Rally
- 12:00pm: Massive Digital Rally for Status for All
- 4:00pm: Digital Rally in Spanish for Status for All
- 5:00pm: Digital Rally in Mandarin for Status for All
- 5:00pm: Car Caravan for Status for All, Vancouver, BC
Media Contact: Syed Hussan, 416 453 3632, firstname.lastname@example.org
Livestream broadcast: www.migrantrights.ca