Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and Quebec Premier Legault are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to close Roxham Road. Refugees are being shipped out of Quebec. Over in Niagara Falls, the Mayor is complaining about refugee children taking up space in school. Many people are talking about refugees taking up services and jobs.
This is strategic racism and it must be understood and opposed as such.
Join or organize actions across the country on March 18 & 19.
Say it loud, say clear: Refugees Welcome! Status for All Now!
Politics of Hate, Fear and Division
Because of our collective action, permanent resident status for over half a million undocumented people is concretely possible. Federal pharmacare, childcare and dental care programs are on the horizon. Where workers are fighting collectively, wages are increasing. At the same time, many of us are angry because corporations are getting rich while the rest of us are struggling to pay the bills. In times like these, racism and anti-immigrant hysteria is a strategy of the rich to distract us and divide us, and it has deadly consequences. Once again, we must act firmly, and unite against racism.
Nothing exceptional about refugees crossing at Roxham Road
Refugees are making the dangerous crossing from the US on foot, primarily near Roxham Road in Quebec because Canada and the United States have closed regular border crossings to refugees through the Safe Third Country Agreement. As soon as they enter Canada, they are registered, and apply for refugee status. A hearing is scheduled where a Board Member (not a judge or a lawyer) decides whether to grant them refugee status. 60% of the asylum seekers who crossed via Roxham Road and have had a hearing were granted refugee status. That is the exact same acceptance rate as applicants who come through other ways.
We cross the border for safety
The US refugee determination system is in some ways even worse than Canada’s. 73% of refugee applicants were rejected in the USA under President Trump. Under President Biden, 63% are being rejected. As in Canada, refugees in the US are abused, separated from children, mistreated, denied services, imprisoned and deported. When the US is not safe, people cross over to Canada for asylum. Similarly, when Canada is not safe, they cross into the US.
39,000 refugee claimants is not a crisis
Only 39,171 refugee claimants crossed into Quebec from the US in 2022. That’s about 3% of the 1.2 million temporary residents that came into Canada the same year; or 0.09% of Canada’s total population. Compare 39,000 to 559,868 refugees from Ukraine over the last year who get many of the same services, without any of the demands by politicians to close the border to them. The call to close Roxham Road is a cynical attempt by politicans to distract us from our low-wages and exploitation. Just like their Trump counterparts in the United States.
Refugees are dying crossing the border
Fritznel Richard froze to death leaving Canada on foot to reunite with his family for Christmas. The entire Patel family froze to death going to the US. If Roxham Road is entirely closed, migrants will continue to try to travel, through even more unsafe ways, and even more will die. We need to create more safe paths for refugees, not less.
Underfunding of healthcare, schools and services are to blame
12 billion dollars were cut from schools in Ontario under Ford, it’s not refugee children who are taking up spaces. The crisis in healthcare is a result of under-funding, lack of support for healthcare workers and a push towards privatization. A few thousand refugee claimants are not overrunning the system. Rather refugees use less healthcare and social services than citizens.
Home prices are artificially inflated, food prices are rising, wages stay the same
Over 235,000 people go without shelter in Canada each year. But billionaire developers are creating housing for investments and profit, not people. Up to 40% of housing is now controlled by investors. Food prices have been increased astronomically by large grocery stores but wages lag far behind inflation. We are all struggling to find housing, and it’s certainly not because of those of us who are refugees or immigrants.
Unite Against Racism and Bosses and Win Status For All!
The most effective opposition to racist division is to push forward a pro-immigrant united agenda. The struggle for status for all is a struggle against exploitation of all workers by wealthy bosses. More than ever, now is the time to call for permanent resident status for all migrants, including undocumented people, all refused refugees, and temporary workers. Reject racist tricks to divide and silence us in our just demands.