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Migrant Welcome UN Slavery Rapporteur Call for Permanent Resident Status for All
Toronto, September 6, 2023 – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) welcomes the statement in Ottawa from United Nations Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery Professor Tomoya Obokata today in which he called for “paths to longterm or permanent residency be open to all migrant workers”.
The UN Rapporteur was in Canada on a country mission where he met with migrants including 40 members of (MWAC), Indigenous people, people with disability and incarcerated people, persons of African descent and other groups facing exploitation. In his End of Mission press conference today, Professor Obokata said that was “disturbed” that “certain categories of migrant workers are made vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery in Canada by the policies that regulate their immigration status, employment, and housing in Canada, and he is particularly concerned that this workforce is disproportionately racialized, attesting to deep-rooted racism and xenophobia entrenched in Canada’s immigration system”.
He also reiterated that “Newcomers who enter Canada outside of TFWP experience similar precarity. International students who work in excess of the permitted 20 hours per week, asylum-seekers awaiting their work permits, undocumented migrant workers, and those that have lost status are vulnerable to many of the same abusive practices, as they may not report abuses for fear of deportation. Employers who are aware of their status may exploit them under threat of denouncing them to immigration authorities.”
The UN Rapporteur also echoed a call for regularization of all undocumented people, a call that was also made in June 2023 by the UN Rapporteur on Migration.
“The United Nations Rapporteur has yet again stated what we all know, and migrants have been saying for decades – a two-tier system of immigration where over 1.2 million new temporary permits are being issued each year breeds exploitation, exclusion and violence. All migrants, including undocumented people, migrant students, workers and refugees, must have permanent resident status to protect themselves and ensure a fair society,” said Syed Hussan, executive director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
Prime Minister Trudeau promised regularization of undocumented people and permanent resident status for migrant students, workers and families in a mandate letter commitment in December 2021, 20 months later, migrants continue to suffer.
- End of mission statement by UN Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, September 6, 2023: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/09/canada-anchor-fight-against-contemporary-forms-slavery-human-rights-un
- UN Rapporteur on Migration’s statement calling for regularization: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/06/states-must-broaden-pathways-regularisation-migrants-un-expert
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is a migrant-led, membership based organization of farmworkers, fishery workers, careworkers, undocumented people and current and former international students uniting for immigration and labour justice.