Tinig Migrante By E Maestro

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  • Minister Fraser’s Pathway Announcement: “Disappointing”

    Migrant organizations, migrant justice advocates, allies, and the thousands of undocumented
    migrants all across Canada still have to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliver on
    the promise he made on December 16, 2021 to create a regularization program that will
    ensure regularization for undocumented migrants and permanent resident status for all.

    The recent announcement of Immigration Minister Sean Fraser of providing a
    permanent residency to only just 1,000 undocumented construction workers, and only in the
    Greater Toronto Area was a big let down. Minister Fraser was quoted in the Toronto Star that
    the pathway or the pilot program was to “address critical labour shortages for the Greater
    Toronto Area by supporting stability in the construction industry and bringing workers out of
    the underground economy.” Under this pilot program, undocumented workers who are
    potential applicants will have to identify themselves to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) for
    prescreening and if qualified would be referred to the Immigration Department for final
    assessment. Application ends on Jan 2, 2024. The pathway is not a guarantee for regularization,
    which begs the question of where do workers who have come out from the “underground” but
    are not deemed qualified to work in the GTA, where will they go? Underground again?

    The policy was far from what the migrant groups want a fair, inclusive and just regularization
    program that ensures that no undocumented migrant worker is left behind, and one that is
    done across the country.

    Marco Luciano, Director of Migrante Alberta who is based in Edmonton, said that the
    announcement from Minister Fraser was “disappointing.” He added that “It does not address
    the fundamental issue of undocumented migrants. Piecemeal regularization is not the solution.
    We demand an inclusive regularization program without caps and for all sectors. We must end
    the inhumane deportation and detention of migrants.”

    Apparently, this policy is not new because this is simply an extension of a public policy created
    in January 2020 which ran for three years, but “only 500 applications were processed because
    of exclusionary requirements,” according to the
    Migrants Rights Network.

    To be able to apply for PR
    under this recent policy, the undocumented workers must meet ALL
    the government requirements. The undocumented worker must have

    entered Canada as a temporary resident but have lost status;

    lived in Canada for at least FIVE years;
    the right work experience as outlined in the National Occupational Classification
    (NOC): past work experience and “be working in Canada”;

    family in Canada, i.e., either extended family who are citizens or permanent
    residents OR spouse, common law partner or child in Canada;

    be referred by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to Immigration if considered

    be admissible to Canada which means overstaying your temporary resident
    status and working without a valid work permit are considered admissible in this case. It
    will be an immigration officer who will determine if you are not admissible.

    To liken this “pathway” to a road, it will best be described as a pathway that is narrow, full of
    potholes, checkpoints, toll fees, and danger, with no assurance that the undocumented worker
    will successfully reach the end of the path. To walk down that pathway is to go through the
    grim bureaucracy of documents, such as getting certificates from past employers who may have
    been the reason for the worker losing status, and securing police certificates from each country
    where the worker have stayed for six or more months, not only for the worker but for all family
    members. Don’t forget the application fees of $1,085 processing and right of PR for the
    undocumented worker which is only the start because there are other fees like biometric fees
    and other for the worker and family members.

    The recent announcement is indeed a BIG disappointment because the government could do
    more than that. Without an
    inclusive and just regularization program, the arrests and
    detentions of undocumented migrants will continue, deportations will not stop, and worse,
    deaths of migrants under the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency will still happen.

    One way to address the labour shortage is to get more workers. Canada does not have to look
    far because an estimated 500,000 of these workers are already in Canada, already working,
    many of them in essential and frontline work, contributing to the Canadian economy and
    keeping our communities running, especially under this continuing pandemic.

    Migrant workers know the simple logic: Good enough to work, good enough to stay.

    PHOTO CAPTION: Photo credit: Migrante AlbertaRegularization Now!Status for All! Let Danilo de
    Leon Stay


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