Over 200 people gathered at 11 am at Hector-Toe-Blake Park near Atwater Metro in Montreal on July 18 for a mass march kicking off a week of action to demand Status For All! The week of actions was organized by Solidarity Across Borders, the Migrant Rights Network and many other allies, including the Immigrant Workers Centre. The aim of the actions was to mobilize support for a comprehensive and ongoing regularization program for all migrants with precarious status.
Participants were informed that Canada has rejected double the number of applications for permanent residence based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, which rose from 35 per cent in 2019 to nearly 70 per cent in the first quarter of 2021. The conclusion: a real regularization program is needed for all.
For over an hour and a half, participants made their way through downtown Montreal to the offices of Quebec Premier François Legault on McGill College Avenue.
Following testimonials by undocumented workers, Mostafa Heneway, a community organizer with the Immigrant Workers Centre said: “Unfortunately, we’re still here. A year after the pandemic, we were told there was going to be regularization […] that there was a new pathway for status. It was a sham. It was for high-tech workers, […] skilled workers, […] for people who were already going to get their status […]. But for the hundreds of thousands who didn’t, they remain in the shadows, simply punished, not paid for what they did during the pandemic […].
“What Canada has done is set up a pathway for deportations, not for status, during this pandemic. And what it is doing now is saying: ‘For all those who thought they could seek refuge, […] some sense of human dignity — whether they crossed at Lacolle, came here as refugee claimants or as low-skilled workers — the door is shut. Our border is closed and now what we will do is have all of those who came deported.’ That’s what we’re seeing ultimately with this increase in rejections of Humanitarian and Compassionate ground applications.
“These offices they set up are just wholesale refusing people and setting them up to remain here undocumented […] docile, without access to any services, basic health care, education, housing. That is apartheid […]. There can be no other way of describing it.
“And who benefits? It’s the people here […] in these towers that have access constantly to cheap labour, whether it be Uber, Dollarama, Amazon, Metro or Costco. They’re the ones who ultimately benefit. And it’s not just about those who have been able to work, because those without status are forced constantly to be marginalized, have no access to actually do anything.
“And so status for all is simply a necessity. […] It will allow people to live with basic dignity, people who have already contributed, already suffered and people who also aren’t going to beg anymore. This is why this movement is so critical, because status for all […] is going to happen because migrants are organizing themselves and we’re here to support them. Un status pour tous! We’ll see it if we support those who are already struggling.”