We stopped mass deportations!

55,000 migrant student workers WILL NOT be deported! Why? Because organizing works! Last year when tens of thousands of us were facing deportation for a crisis not in our making, we came together to take action for change. AND WE WON. In direct response to migrant student workers speaking up, the federal government has made post graduate work permits (PGWPs) renewable!

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The fight is not over. Many migrant student workers are in essential jobs, but our work is not valued or counted towards permanent immigration status because it is low-waged and deemed “low-skilled.” We know that it is the work we do — delivery, warehousing, construction, retail, care — which sustains society. We will continue to take action so that all our work is valued.  

This isn’t just a victory for migrant student workers. It’s a victory for all migrant and undocumented people because it shows that together we can organize to win the changes we deserve. Now, more than ever, we must all unite for full and permanent immigration status for all and build the world we want to live in. 

How we fought and won:

In mid-March 2020, as COVID-19 was hitting our communities hard, Migrant Student United (MSU) organized online information sessions for migrant students. Over 2,300 migrant student workers joined in with our concerns. Based on these meetings, MSU sent a letter to the government in April and launched a petition calling for healthcare, income support, and immigration changes. Over 12,000 people signed on. 

Between May and July, MSU held weekly online meetings with hundreds of student workers to share up-to-date information, and identify priorities. MSU supported student workers to establish local Migrant Students United chapters. If you want to start a chapter on your campus or in your city, email us msu@migrantworkersalliance.org. On July 4th, migrant students joined actions for status for all across the country. 

In August, thousands of us met and discussed being unable to complete the work experience required for permanent residency status because of unfair immigration rules. Many of us had lost our jobs because of COVID-19 or couldn’t find work. MSU launched a petition calling on the government to #RenewPGWP. Over 5,000 students signed. On August 23, migrant students joined a full and permanent immigration status for all action in Toronto. 

On September 12, migrant student workers organized a mass rally outside Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office. On September 13, we rallied in Peel. On September 20th, we joined rallies in Toronto. We were featured in CBC National, Global News, the Toronto Star, and our story was shared across multiple major media outlets across Canada. 

On October 25th we rallied in Toronto and installed a giant work permit at immigration headquarters in downtown Toronto.

On November 24, we delivered 16,000 petitions to Immigration Minister Mendicino’s office in Toronto while dozens of student workers and allies took action online. In November, we also postered the offices and the riding of Immigration Minister letting him know that he must stop mass deportations. MSU met with bureaucrats at Immigration Canada.

Faced with our ongoing organizing, the Immigration Minister committed to taking action in Parliament on December 1st. But we didn’t stop. In December, we took our voice to the federal cabinet. We postered the offices of MP Carolyn Bennett, MP Navdeep Bains and MP Maryam Monsef. Hundreds of migrants and allies called and left messages for the Immigration Minister. 

On January 8th, the federal government responded to our demands and made post-graduate work permits renewable. In the past several months, we strengthened our movement – and we will not stop. Migrant student workers will continue to organize alongside all migrant and undocumented people for full and permanent immigration status for all.