Undocumented migrants speak out: regularization is the only solution in this time of crisis.

April 29, 2020

To our neighbours,

In a socioeconomic context almost entirely dominated by COVID-19, which has upset the status quo and undermined our daily habits in a far-reaching way, it has become more clear to us than ever that society depends on each and everyone of us in this exhausting fight against this pandemic.

If we agree that COVID-19 does not in any way discriminate on the basis of our status or where we come from, it then follows that the measures necessary to combat this pandemic also cannot be discriminatory. Unfortunately, we have been forced to confront the difficult reality that in spite of the immense gravity of the situation, we continue to be marginalized.

Since the establishment of public health and safety measures which have included extensive self-isolation and an end to all non-essential activities, it has become clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vulnerability of non-status people in Canada has reached extremely devastating proportions.

With no revenue and locked out of any and all financial aid measures, including the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), we non-status people face serious threats, including losing our homes and finding ourselves in the street, a lack of food and medication, and an inability to meet our basic needs.

Furthermore, the governments of Québec and Canada categorically refuse to establish global health coverage (medicare) for non-status people. This refusal creates a situation in which non-status people may be reticent about using emergency services, for fear of being identified and detained.

Remember that, in Canada, people with a precarious status are held in migrant detention centers, where conditions are ideal for community contagion.

Sadly, all of these discriminatory policies constitute a psychological burden that weighs heavily on our already precarious situation.

That is why it is more than essential that something be done. Even if people don’t know it, non-status people are active in the economy in the agricultural sector, in restaurants, in warehouses and manufacturing, in construction, at grocery stores, in residential housecleaning, and in seniors’ residences, hospitals, and child health care, as well as other essential services. We also pay income taxes, work as volunteers, participate in the arts…We are your friends, your neighbours, your fellow citizens. In short, we are full members of society.

In spite of our skills and qualifications, non-status people go entirely unrecognized.

At this difficult time, when our society needs all of us to participate in the struggle against this pandemic, we non-status people want, with this letter, to reaffirm our desire to work with you and to contribute to this cause. Because COVID-19 makes no distinction between people based on their status, we want to be actively involved in the response. Removing the obstacles to this requires the legalization of each and every person’s status.

That is why we, the signatories of this letter, demand the government of Canada to immediately:

  • Regularize all non-status people in Canada without exception;
  • Free all non-status people held in Canada’s detention centers and prisons;
  • Include non-status people in all the federal and provincial measures, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), as well as any other measures.

Unfortunately, while Canada continues to present itself as a welcoming country, the facts on the ground say otherwise.

Now is the time for the Canadian government to act. Telling everybody to stay home shouldn’t mean we are all on our own.