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Ottawa urged to adopt a program to regularize the status of undocumented immigrants



(Montreal) Voices continue to be raised to urge the federal government to set up “as soon as possible” a regularization program for migrants without status in the country in order to put an end to the discrimination they face as quickly as possible.

On the eve of International Women’s Rights Day, organizations testified to the extent to which the precariousness and insecurity experienced by these people without immigration status strikes women even more, often already victims of inequalities because of their sex.

They face various forms of violence and abuse, including sexual and psychological, in addition to obstacles in accessing services and defending their rights, described community workers at a press conference on Tuesday morning. , to Montreal.

These represented, among others, Solidarity Across Borders, the Alliance for Gender Justice in Migration, the Movement Against Rape and Incest, the Echo of Women of the Petite Patrie, the Community Mission of Montreal and the Women of Diverse Origins collective.

“We want to say that the regularization program must be a way to repair the violence against women without status,” claimed Bénédicte Carole Ze of the Center for Immigrant Workers.

Many people currently without status arrived in Canada as asylum seekers or on temporary work or study permits or visitor visas, Ze. The loss of their status can be explained in many cases by administrative reasons or by a lack of knowledge of their rights.

Despite this situation, many remain in the labor market, but they are relegated to precarious jobs.

They are confined “to poverty, to undeclared work, to work without rights, to work without any social protection”, lamented Susana Ponte Rivera, community worker at the Écho des femmes de la Petite Patrie.

“To force women to live without immigration status is to confine them to a life of repeated abuse,” she argued.

Migrant women without status who are victims of violence and harassment prefer to remain silent rather than report to the police for fear of then being expelled from the country, stressed speakers at a press conference.

“If they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay here and have the same rights and access to services as any other human being,” argued Marie Boti, founding member of Women of Diverse Origins, which organizes the annual demonstration on March 8 in Montreal.

“People don’t leave their country with a happy heart, it’s because of war, climatic disasters and environmental destruction,” she continued.

“Immediate and Urgent”

The federal Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser, is working on a regularization program for undocumented immigrants which has been waiting for months. Information reported by Radio-Canada on Tuesday suggests that such a program could be unveiled by the summer.

Minister Fraser’s press secretary, however, told The Canadian Press that no timeline had been set for a possible announcement.

Several groups are beginning to get impatient with Ottawa. “We are asking for it to be immediate and urgent because we have suffered a lot. We want our rights as legal people,” said Solidarity Across Borders spokesperson Samira Jasmin.

Susana Ponte Rivera mentioned that “community organizations have been engaged for almost a year in discussions and communications with the federal government”.

“We hope it will be as soon as possible [la mise sur pied du programme] because the longer we wait, the longer women experience unacceptable abuse,” she said.

The organizations are calling on Ottawa to be inclusive in its eligibility criteria by also including people who cannot work due to illness or disability.

They also want the program to avoid exclusions like those found in the Legault government’s program which aimed to give permanent residence to asylum seekers who were considered “guardian angels” during the first wave of COVID-19. 19.

Several people had been excluded despite having contributed to the effort to fight the pandemic, not only in the health sector, but also in many other essential services.

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