COVID-19 COMMUNIQUE: Full Citizenship Now! Temporary Suspension of Deportations Not Enough

Full Citizenship Now! Temporary Suspension of Deportations Not Enough

Montreal, March 18 2020 – The federal government announced on March 17 that it will be temporarily postponing deportations from Canada as part of the broader effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. While this is a positive first step, it does not go nearly far enough. We demand full citizenship now for all migrants.

The immigration system’s exclusion, detention and deportation of people without citizenship status are, in and of themselves, colonial and racist measures. The current public health crisis is exacerbating these injustices, and is having a devastating effect on our loved ones currently held in immigration detention centers. Like people locked in prisons across Canada, immigration detainees are particularly vulnerable in the face of this pandemic.

Additionally, individuals with precarious immigration status are uncertain about their safety when accessing testing and treatment for the virus. Precarious migrant workers also do not have access to paid sick leave or income support measures.

Solidarity Across Borders is therefore calling on the federal government to grant status  for all undocumented migrants currently within the Canadian State. Specifically:

  1. Deportations are unjust, and could further propagate COVID-19 in Canada and abroad. Deportations tear people away from the families and communities they have established in Canada. They are underpinned by a racist logic that treats migrants from the global south as disposable labour. We demand a full and permanent moratorium on deportations.

  2. Maintaining people locked and in close quarters within a pandemic is cruel and irresponsible. We demand an immediate release of everyone currently in immigration detention. We further demand that the federal government provide decent and safe housing for those without personal networks here in Canada

  3. Lack of clarity around identification protocols at testing facilities causes confusion and anxiety, and could lead to cases of COVID-19 going unidentified. Similarly, migrants working in precarious conditions have no access to paid sick leave or income support measures. Here we reiterate the demands of the Migrant Rights Network that 1) the requirement for health care card (RAMQ, for instance) be publically removed (and that this decision be posted at all health centres); 2) no authorities are to be called (SPVM, CBSA or such) if someone does not have identity papers; 3) all workers, regardless of immigration status, need to have the same legal access to health and safety protection, paid sick leave, unemployment, social assistance, and  income support measures.

  4. Finally, we reject the xenophobic logic motivating the closing of Canadian borders, and the suspension of refugee claimant procedures. The World Health Organization has clearly stated that this sort of measure is ineffective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. More importantly, it is an inadequate response to a global crisis. We demand that the border remain open to migrants. Individuals crossing irregularly must have access to the same rights and services as everyone else within the Canadian State, including access to testing and to decent and safe housing.

At Solidarity Across Borders, we believe that everyone has the right to migrate, the right to resist forced displacement, and the right to return to their homelands if they so choose. We thus reiterate our demand for full status for all migrants within the Canadian State, and mutual aid on a global scale, beyond colonial borders.