Nearly 40,000 signatures in petition letters asking ministers to support status for all migrants

Two teams from the FCJ Refugee Centre delivered this Thursday to MP Mary Ng (Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development) and MP Mark Holland (Minister of Health) a total of 38,758 signatures of people —organizations and constituents in Ajax and Markham-Thornhil—, asking the MPs to support regularization for undocumented people and permanent resident status for all migrants.

Following is the text of the petition letter delivered to both MPs.

We are organizations and constituents in Ajax/Markham-Thornhil. Today, we are delivering the names of 38,758 people who have written to you in the last year asking that you support regularization for undocumented people and permanent resident status for all migrants. We are here to support you in supporting regularization.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller promised to bring a proposal on regularization to Cabinet in the Spring. It’s Spring now. Soon you will get a vote on the future of half a million undocumented people in the country. With tens of thousands of others, we are calling on you to support a regularization program that guarantees permanent resident status to all undocumented people without exclusions and without delay.

The last major regularization program was in 1973 under then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Migrant organizing resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising regularization in December 2021. It’s been 27 months since that promise. Every day of delay means continued abuse, exploitation and deportation. You have a historic opportunity to make a difference!

Almost every major civil society, labour, health and environmental organization in Canada has joined the call for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants including undocumented people – nearly 500 organizations – including many in our riding. The Mayors of Montreal and Toronto have sent letters and thousands have sent you emails. Your support of regularization will mean accolades and support for you in your riding in the next election.

Undocumented people already live here. These are not new arrivals. They have jobs, families, and roots in our communities. But they are unable to get any social services, benefits or protections because they are denied permanent resident status. Undocumented migrants are exploited by bad bosses and landlords, and face discrimination, abuse and deportation. Regularizing them, that is granting them permanent resident status, is about including them in the family of rights. It just makes sense. A comprehensive and inclusive regularization program will:

  • Build your legacy: There are at least half a million undocumented people in Canada who once regularized will become voting citizens and be able to participate in the democratic process.
  • Combat poverty and grow the economy: Undocumented people work in cash-based jobs, or are under-employed. Regularized migrants will be able to work where they want and what they are skilled for and earn more income. A recent report about regularization in France, when applied to Canada, showed that regularization will increase economic activity by $28 billion per year.
  • Fund public services while application costs will be cost neutral: Most undocumented people pay taxes but their employers, many of whom operate very profitable businesses, do not pay remittances. Regularizing 500,000 undocumented people will increase employer CPP and EI contributions by at least $5.6 billion, just in the first year. On the other hand, the cost of application processing will be met with existing funding and application fees.
  • Increase worker rights: Employers of undocumented workers steal wages and threaten them with deportations to stop them from asserting their rights. This abuse results in overall worsening of working conditions in the labour market for migrants and citizens alike. Regularization will allow workers to leave bad jobs, and punish bad actors. This will improve working conditions for everyone.
  • Ensure public health: Migrants do not access healthcare until it is absolutely necessary due to high fees. By the time they do, their health conditions are much worse, and the impact on the healthcare system is much higher. Regularization will improve all our health.
  • Counter racism and gender inequality: Undocumented people are mostly racialized, low-waged people, often women. Regularization will give them the power to defend themselves against systemic exploitation. Women will be able to speak out against gender violence and leave conditions of domestic abuse.
  • Build on best practices around the world: Regularization is a widely used policy tool – between 1996 and 2008, 24 of the 27 EU Member States implemented regularization programs, and some several times. An estimated 5.5 to 6 million people were regularized in that time.

The time for regularization is now. We urge you to get it done.

Your constituents and thousands of people across the country.