Dutrisac: Régulariser les sans-papiers

Of note:

En décembre 2021, le premier ministre Justin Trudeau demandait au ministre de l’Immigration, des Réfugiés et de la Citoyenneté, Sean Fraser, de « poursuivre l’exploration de moyens » afin de régulariser le statut des travailleurs migrants sans papiers. Dix mois plus tard, le ministre n’a toujours pas annoncé quoi que ce soit.

Il y a un peu plus d’une semaine, une centaine de personnes ont manifesté à Montréal pour réclamer un programme massif de régularisation de ces travailleurs.

Selon le Comité permanent de la citoyenneté et de l’immigration de la Chambre des communes, le Canada compte entre 20 000 et 500 000 migrants non documentés. Quand on voit de tels chiffres, et un tel écart dans les évaluations, c’est qu’on ne sait pas vraiment combien on dénombre de ces personnes qui subsistent dans cette clandestinité pitoyable mais tolérée.

Parmi ces travailleurs qui ont préféré prendre la clé des champs au lieu de retourner dans leurs pays d’origine, on trouve plusieurs cas d’espèce. Il y a des détenteurs de visa de touristes qui sont restés illégalement au pays, des travailleurs dont le permis de travail n’a pas été renouvelé, parfois à cause d’employeurs négligents ou de la complexité administrative des programmes d’Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC), des étudiants étrangers au terme de leurs études et des demandeurs d’asile qui se sont vu refuser le statut de réfugié et font l’objet d’un avis d’expulsion.

S’il est vrai que des centaines de milliers de travailleurs, voire un demi-million, comme certains l’estiment, travaillent au noir au Canada, on ne peut continuer à ignorer le problème. Ces travailleurs ne jouissent d’aucune protection sociale ; ils n’ont pas accès aux services de santé gratuits, ni à la protection contre les accidents du travail, à l’assurance-emploi évidemment et à l’aide de dernier recours. Leur quotidien est fait de petits boulots mal payés. Ils sont dépendants d’employeurs qui peuvent les exploiter. Parfois, ils ne parlent que leur langue natale et sont ainsi souvent confinés dans leur communauté ethnique, ce qui est cependant conforme au dogme multiculturaliste.

Dans la commande qu’il a passée à son ministre, Justin Trudeau lui demande de s’appuyer sur les programmes pilotes existants. Depuis deux ans à Toronto, il existe un tel projet pilote dans l’industrie de la construction. Il est très limité : le programme vise la régularisation de 500 travailleurs seulement, et il semble que ce modeste objectif n’ait même pas été atteint. L’an dernier, IRCC a aboli une des conditions qui faisait obstacle : avoir une connaissance des plus minimales d’une des langues officielles, en l’occurrence l’anglais évidemment. Ottawa octroie la résidence permanente à des immigrants qui ne parlent aucune des langues officielles. Ce n’est pas un empêchement.

Le phénomène des travailleurs sans papiers est une conséquence du régime d’immigration qui s’est imposé ces dernières années. La grande majorité des candidats à l’immigration ne font plus leur demande de l’étranger : ils sont déjà au pays à titre de travailleurs temporaires, d’étudiants et de demandeurs d’asile.

Ces étrangers sont confrontés au double langage des autorités fédérales : d’une part, on leur dit que la voie privilégiée pour être admis comme immigrant, c’est d’être déjà au Canada grâce à un statut temporaire, d’autre part, on exige d’eux qu’ils s’engagent à quitter le pays une fois leurs contrats ou leurs études terminés.

Dans le cas des demandeurs d’asile qui passent par le chemin Roxham, il peut s’écouler des années avant que leur sort ne soit tranché par les autorités. Entre-temps, nombre d’entre eux ont pu se trouver un emploi stable, apprendre la langue commune, voire fonder un foyer. Bref, ils se sont intégrés.

L’inconvénient de la régularisation, c’est qu’elle concède un avantage à des personnes qui enfreignent les règles au détriment de ceux qui s’y conforment. Mieux vaut mieux entrer par le chemin Roxham que d’emprunter la voie régulière et passer les postes-frontières.

L’autre enjeu, c’est l’état de dysfonctionnement d’IRCC qui n’arrive pas, à l’heure actuelle, à assumer correctement ses responsabilités. À titre d’exemple, les demandeurs d’asile qui arrivent au Québec attendent maintenant dix mois avant qu’Ottawa officialise leur requête pour leur statut de réfugié, une étape qui leur permet d’obtenir un permis de travail. Forcés à ne rien faire, ils en sont réduits à recevoir de l’aide de dernier recours.

Devant l’incurie fédérale, le gouvernement Legault a le devoir d’exercer tous les pouvoirs dont il dispose, notamment en matière de permis de travail et d’études, afin de remédier aux aberrations d’un système défaillant. Mais à terme, c’est l’ensemble de l’oeuvre qu’il lui faudra revoir.

Source: Régulariser les sans-papiers

Ottawa working on program to regularize status of 500,000 immigrants

Hopefully, the government is not only consulting with advocacy groups (CBA is the only one quoted with some concerns):

The federal government is aiming to create a program that will provide a path to permanent residency for up to 500,000 immigrants who are working in Canada but do not have official standing.

The program would have unprecedented scope and apply to people whose visa or work permits had expired, and to those whose refugee applications may have been denied or blocked due to a moratorium on deportations to their country, according to Radio-Canada.

“We’re looking into ways to regularize people who live in Canada with a precarious status,” a government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Radio-Canada.

Up to 500,000 people could be eligible, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

In his mandate letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser late last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Fraser to “further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.”

Immigration Ministry spokesperson Rémi Larivière confirmed that work to complete that mandate “is underway,” and that the ministry is consulting with university researchers, experts and industry advocates.

Ministry officers have approached several advocacy groups in recent weeks and over the summer to consult them on the program, Larivière said. Potential criteria and a launch date are still unknown.

“We’re hoping for an inclusive program that will help many people, but it’s still vague,” said Hady Anne, a spokesperson for the Montreal-based Solidarity Without Borders.

While there have been programs to regularize the status of immigrant groups before, none have included so many people, says Rivka Augenfeld, a lifelong refugee advocate and the former president the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, a working table of Quebec immigration organizations

“It’s never been seen,” Augenfeld said of the forthcoming program’s expected scope. But she warned that for it to be effective, the program will need “the will of a good minister as well as the prime minister’s support.”

Temporary workers and asylum seekers would not be able to apply — including the thousands who have crossed at Roxham Road in Lacolle, Que., an unofficial crossing point increasingly popular among migrants entering Canada from the United States.

There is a large backlog in processing asylum applications, meaning many people wait years before even having a chance to tell their story before an Immigration and Refugee Board judge.

Lisa Middlemiss, the president of the Canadian Bar Association, says that while the new program would be a positive step for people with precarious status who’ve lived and worked in the country for years, it could appear unfair to migrants who have temporary status in Canada without the possibility of obtaining permanent residency.

“It’s ambitious and interesting, but it could generate a lot of frustrations,” Middlemiss said.

Larivière, the ministry spokesperson, said Ottawa would “continue to support inclusive immigration programs that meet Canada’s economic needs and fuel our growth.”

Would Quebec buy in?

Advocates such as Augenfeld and Anne fear Quebec’s government could intervene to limit the program within the province.

During the pandemic, when the federal government created a program allowing asylum seekers working in health care to apply for permanent residency, Premier François Legault’s government objected to expanding the criteria to workers who did not directly care for patients, such as cooking staff and cleaners.

The move excluded thousands and was strongly condemned by immigration advocates.

In the spring of 2021, Legault also declined to participate in another federal program offering essential workers and graduates a new pathway to permanent residency.

Legault was re-elected on Monday with a resounding majority of 90 out of 125 seats in the National Assembly.

He came under fire leading up to the election after he associated immigration with violence and extremism and later said it would a “bit suicidal” for Quebec to increase its immigration levels, insisting that accepting more immigrants entails a threat to the French language.

“We’re worried Quebec will complicate things,” said Anne of Solidarity Against Borders.

Augenfeld also raised the possibility that Quebec could “throw a wrench” into the plan for immigrants in the province.

Because the program is expected to include people from countries for which Canada has moratoriums on deportations, Haitian nationals, largely based in Quebec, could qualify.

Frantz André, who has helped hundreds of Haitians apply for asylum in the province, hopes Legault will be more open this time around.

“We’re hoping he’ll be more generous,” André said. “These people have been living in system that is broken for too long. They’ve demonstrated that they are real citizens.”

Reached by Radio-Canada, the Quebec premier’s office declined to answer questions on the topic.

“We’ve had no information from the federal government on the subject,” a spokesperson said.

Source: Ottawa working on program to regularize status of 500,000 immigrants

Block: A huge upside to recognizing rights for migrants living in Canada

More advocacy than balanced analysis on the pros and cons.

The argument that this will increase Canadian productivity is more wishful thinking as no studies that I am aware of demonstrate that (nor for the overall large and increasing numbers of immigrants):

“Papers, please.”

In Hollywood movies, these two words never fail to inject fear, tension and high stakes into any scene. A character whose documents are not “in order” faces serious consequences, from job loss to family separation to arrest to deportation.

For some 500,000 people in Canada, this scenario is no movie scene — it’s real life. For various reasons, they have no legal status in this country. Another 1.2 million people are here on permits that allow them to work or study, for now, but with no right to stay permanently. They have limited access to the benefits most citizens take for granted.

For these residents, this lack of status is a source of constant worry. Life without status means life without health care. It means working without the workplace protections that all workers deserve. It means no rights to minimum standards like the minimum wage, or overtime pay, or statutory holiday pay.

Undocumented workers are more likely to face wage theft, injury and sexual exploitation.

Further, the existence of a large pool of workers with few rights gives employers a ready source of cheap labour — one that is unlikely to complain for fear of job loss or worse. There are no minimum standards for workers without rights. This has a negative impact on the labour market as a whole, dragging down wages and working conditions for low-wage workers generally.

So it is good news that the federal government is looking at ways to “regularize” more migrants and undocumented workers to bring them into the mainstream of Canadian society. It is hard to overestimate the benefits of doing so.

The humanitarian benefits to individuals, families, and communities are obvious. The economic benefits to the country as a whole should not be overlooked.

First of all, Canada needs workers: we are currently facing a historic labour shortage. The number of job vacancies hit a record 997,000 in the second quarter of 2022, with significant worker shortages in health care, construction, manufacturing, retail, and other sectors. We need to increase the productive capacity of our economy, and there is no time to waste.

Canada’s population was aging long before COVID-19 came along, and if we do not take action the number of unfilled jobs can only increase as the share of the population over age 65 continues to grow. We need to increase the current and future working-age population, including the number of children and youth. A tidal wave of retirements is coming — indeed, it has already begun. As our nurses, teachers, construction workers and others leave the workforce, we need people to replace them.

Without an increase in the working age population, we will see a sharp drop-off in the productive capacity of our economy. While regularization alone will not solve this problem, it can be part of the solution.

Regularization holds the potential to provide a rapid upgrade to overall skill levels in the Canadian workforce and a corresponding boost in overall productivity. That’s because undocumented workers often have no choice but to work in jobs that use only a fraction of their skills, knowledge and abilities.

Without the threat of deportation hanging over them, undocumented workers will have the capacity to work more, to work more productively, and to participate more fully in the labour market and economy. This can only be good for all of us.

Regularization will also benefit the public purse. Undocumented workers already pay various taxes (sales taxes, for example), but with regularization they will contribute more, and so will their employers. More money for public services and infrastructure will be essential if we hope to meet current and future challenges.

Our country faces many urgent problems these days, but having too many people is not one of them. Regularization of the rights of migrants is a win for them and a win for Canada.

Let’s make sure everyone’s papers are in order.

Source: A huge upside to recognizing rights for migrants living in Canada

Activists push Trudeau to broaden permanent-residency plan for undocumented migrants

As activists do:

As MPs return to business after the summer break, advocates are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to offer a pathway to permanent residence for the estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants in the country.

“The next Parliament must not wait. It cannot wait. The time for comprehensive, immediate and inclusive regularization is right now,” Syed Hussan of the Migrant Rights Network told a news conference on Wednesday to launch the call for actions from Ottawa.

“Half a million people in this country are undocumented because of failures of immigration policy. Finally, Mr. Trudeau now has the historic opportunity to begin to correct these wrongs and be remembered for ensuring equal rights for these members of our society. There is cross-country support for such a move.”

Since the spring, the minority Liberal government, backed by the New Democrats, has been quietly working on a so-called regularization plan for non-status migrants, many of them precariously employed with often-exploitative jobs in construction, cleaning, caregiving, food processing and agriculture.

They face a range of vulnerabilities, including poor mental and physical health caused by social isolation and abusive working conditions.

The Star has learned that the new program builds on a previous smaller-scale initiative that helped undocumented construction workers obtain permanent status in Canada, and would likely focus on workers in particular sectors.

However, advocates are urging the government to take a broader-based approach.

“We are all here to insist that absolutely each and every undocumented person should be included. No one should be left behind. Equality is equality. And there can be no exceptions. All exceptions are discrimination,” said Hussan.

The Migrant Rights Network’s campaign is endorsed by 480 civil society organizations, including Canada’s largest human rights, climate, health, legal and labour groups.

Caroline Brouillette of the Climate Action Network Canada, a coalition of 140 groups, said the climate crisis forces more and more people from their homes, and ensuring equal rights for migrants is fundamental to climate justice.

“Transforming our unequal, exploitative system into one that ensures dignity and safety for all is a key step toward addressing Canada’s climate debt,” she said. “We urge the federal government to seize this opportunity.”

Like the majority of undocumented residents who came to Canada legally, Danilo De Leon arrived in Edmonton in 2009 from the Philippines under the Temporary Foreign Worker program as a cleaner.

In 2018, he was issued an exclusion order by border enforcement agents after his work permit and temporary resident permit expired.

“We came here to work because you need workers. We are more than just workers that feed your economy. We are human beings who have the rights to live in Canada with dignity,” said the father of two, whose deportation was only recently stayed by the court. “We need a regularization program that does not discriminate.”

Advocates say more and more migrants are arriving in Canada as temporary residents, but many struggle to extend their stay to gain permanent residence.

“Most temporary permits, whether a work permit, study permits or refugee-claimant permits, are the only gateways to Canada for low-waged and racialized people. But these pathways are actually a path off a cliff,” said Hussan.

“At one point or the other, these permits expire and cannot be replaced. The only choice, which is no choice at all, is living in Canada without any status or returning to a country that you may not be able to live in, whether it’s to escape war or poverty, climate catastrophe or discrimination.”

The Migrant Rights Network recommends a moratorium on deportations and detentions, and a free and simple application process that can be easily completed without immigration advisers.

Rallies will be held this Sunday in 12 Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to support the call for immigration justice.

Source: Activists push Trudeau to broaden permanent-residency plan for undocumented migrants

Nyers and Moffette: Canada must grant permanent immigration status to undocumented residents

Not necessarily for the country as a whole, and for public confidence in government management of immigration.

Immigration always is based on both inclusion and exclusion, and thus discrimination between those who are deemed to meet criteria and those who are not.

The authors also are silent on the increased numbers of temporary residents that are transitioning to permanent status (mainly IMP, PGWP, students, less so Temporary Foreign Workers).

But calling to provide permanent status to “all” temporary residents is unrealistic. From an economic perspective, if some move from precarious employment, others will likely take their place, and of course, increased labour supply reduces the incentives for business to invest in technology and productivity.

And the authors are silent on overall levels of immigration, leaving the impression, fairly or not, that they favour none.

Temporary workers in key sectors (e.g. healthcare) have a stronger case from a Canadian interest point of view that those in less important sectors, or those who are seasonal workers:

In the December 2021 mandate letter to the newly appointed Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Liberal government tasked him with exploring “ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.” 

Sean Fraser has since said he’s working on designing a regularization program that can help address this issue. 

In May, MPs passed motion M-44 urging the government to design a plan to provide permanent residency to temporary foreign workers. If planned and executed correctly, these programs could be a historic opportunity to improve the lives of up to 1.7 million people who live in Canada without a secure status. 

Demanded action

In July 2021, migrants and advocates in Montréal, Toronto, Edmonton and St. Catharines held rallies demanding that the programs be inclusive, comprehensive and permanent.

Now the question is whether the government will create a program that can provide status to all undocumented and temporary residents through permanent residency permits, or whether it will create a small symbolic program that will fail to properly tackle the issue. 

There’s a lot at stake.

Most industrialized countries host a substantial number of undocumented residents. It’s an institutionally produced phenomenon that occurs when migrants travelling in search of safety, work, love or community encounter immigration and refugee policies that provide only limited protection to asylum-seekers and precarious and temporary permits to immigrants. Canada is no exception.

Our immigration system is geared towards temporary and conditional permits, many of them lacking a clear pathway to permanent residency and citizenship. Every year, more migrants enter Canada with temporary permits than permanent ones. This leaves them undocumented when their permits expire.

Strategies that make it possible to circumvent our international obligations towards asylum-seekers, in particular the Safe Third Country Agreement as well as an outdated definition of “refugee,” also leave many people without protection and official status to remain in the country.

Without addressing these root causes, regularization programs are only a temporary fix to a problem that was institutionally produced. However, these programs have tremendous positive outcomes for both migrants and society. 

Common in the EU

Regularization is a common policy tool in the European Union. France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland and many other countries all routinely implement regularization programs. 

Spain, for example, implemented ad hoc programs under both conservative and progressive governments that regularized more than a million people between 2000 and 2006. It then launched a permanent ongoing mechanism to provide status to undocumented residents.

While less common in Canada, regularization programs have been implemented in the past. Under Pierre Trudeau’s government in 1973, some 39,000 people were regularized as part of the Adjustment of Status Program

But so far, the Canadian approach has been extremely restrictive, limiting access to relief programs to specific nationalities or people with specific family or work situations. A 2002 program that provided status to only 900 Algerians is a good example of the Canadian government’s lack of ambition. 

The mention of “undocumented workers” in Fraser’s mandate letter makes us fear this restrictive trend may continue.

Benefits, potential policy pitfalls

Regularization programs have many benefits

For migrants and those concerned about their well-being and rights, such programs can provide safety, stability and access to rights and family reunification. 

For the government, a well-designed program can “reset” the growing population of people without status or at risk of losing it, thereby remediating a problem produced by years of policies favouring temporary and conditional permits. 

Regularization can also provide a boon to the economy and the labour market by allowing workers to move from precarious jobs to more stable and better work in sectors where their skills are most needed.

For regularization programs to be effective policy tools, they need to be inclusive and comprehensive. Here are some potential pitfalls: 

1) Imposing a low arbitrary cap on the number of permits available, while useful for budgeting and staffing purposes, would make the program inaccessible to most. 

2) Limiting the program to undocumented workers in specific sectors would have the sole purpose of addressing labour market needs while failing to recognize undocumented residents’ contributions in all sectors of the economy and society. The “guardian angels” initiative — a program that provided a pathway to permanent residency to a few asylum-seekers who worked in very specific health-care jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic — has taught us that such an approach risks imposing restrictive professional criteria that would disqualify many workers. 

3) Providing only temporary and conditional permits would be counter-productive because those permits are largely responsible for the growing number of undocumented residents in Canada. 

This is a historic opportunity to tackle a long-standing problem and start rethinking our immigration and refugee model. 

In the next few months, we’ll see whether the government intends to use this policy tool to its full potential or settle for a small symbolic program that will fail to bring about long-term structural change.

Source: Canada must grant permanent immigration status to undocumented residents

Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Of note, political virtue signalling for the right, with risks of possible backlash. Proposal is intrinsically deplorable:

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, signed what was known as the Texas DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition rates to young undocumented students as long as they were state residents for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and promised to apply for permanent residency.

Two decades later, immigration politics in Texas have been completely transformed. Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for the Supreme Courtto strike down the 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling that forces states to pay for the education of undocumented children.

Speaking on a conservative radio show, Abbott said Texas already sued the federal government long ago over having to incur the costs of the education program.

“And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue,” Abbott said. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago.”

In light of the report that the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade and reverse long-enshrined federal abortion protections, Democrats and activists privately worry that efforts like Abbott’s are not the fantasy they would have seemed just six months ago, but could actually become reality in the near future.

But they argue Abbott’s gambit could backfire, as a similar campaign did after the passage of California’s infamous Proposition 187 in 1994 signed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, including public education.

After all, “Prop 187,” which only survived five years, had unintended consequences. Not only did it fail in discouraging immigrants from seeking services, it also helped to create a mobilized Latino electorate that proved to be a major factor in turning California blue.

Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist, worked in California GOP politics and considers Wilson a friend. But he says the fallout from Prop 187 could serve as a warning for Texas Republicans.

“The legacy of 187 was to create a generational voting bloc of Latinos against the Republican Party that would not normally happen,” Madrid said, adding that California was then experiencing the rightward shift Texas is experiencing now. “That changed substantially because of these attacks on the community. Once attacked, Latinos rally.”

In California, the Latino share of the electorate nearly doubled at the time and support for Republicans crumbled, a far cry from the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan garnered 48% of the Hispanic vote. When Bob Dole ran in 1996, he received a paltry 6% of the Latino vote.

Julissa Arce, an activist and author of the new book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation,” told Newsweek she was once an undocumented student in Texas when she lived in the state from age 11 to 21.

“Thank God no one was questioning how I got there,” she said. But fear was always present. “I never wanted to go talk to my counselor, afraid they might look at my documents.”

Abbott’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear, Arce said, particularly in a state where nearly 53% of public school students are Hispanic.

The end of the state educating undocumented kids would likely include echoes of the chaos of Prop 187, with school administrators having to ask children about the immigration status of their parents, and parents who have both undocumented and U.S.-citizen children pulling their kids from school.

Abbott has tacked to the right during his reelection campaign in an effort to energize his primary voters, often around issues concerning immigration and education. He sent buses of migrants to Washington DC, a message to the Biden administration to deal with a problem he feels it has made worse.

Last week, Abbott slammed the Biden administration for providing baby formula to immigrants in holding facilities, “as American parents scramble amid a nationwide shortage of the product.”

John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told Newsweekthe Texas governor widely publicized moves are an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s shortcomings.

“I think the governor’s point is the federal government continues to fail in its responsibility of dealing with immigration, and Congress has failed for decades, so as a result states have had to deal with the fiscal responsibility of the issue,” he said. “The border and illegal immigration is something Texas has picked up the tab on.”

Arce called Abbott’s announcements “anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric” for a reelection campaign, but acknowledged “it feels different because he could really turn this into action as we’ve seen with Roe v. Wade, and this relitigation of things we thought had been settled.”

Source: Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Why Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants Matters for US Economic Recovery | Immigration

Of note:

There are 10.4 million undocumented immigrants working and living in the United States. Approximately 5 million of them are considered essential workers — serving as health care professionals and staff at hospitals, as agricultural and farm workers producing the country’s food, as delivery drivers and grocery store clerks, and in other industries that have helped keep the country afloat. Some of them are Dreamers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, or Temporary Protected Status holders. Yet they were excluded from federal pandemic relief efforts and unable to receive stimulus checks and many do not have access to health care.

The Center for American Progress, a Corporation grantee, makes the case for the Biden administration and Congress to create a pathway to citizenship and permanent protections for undocumented immigrants as they continue to aid the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The author, Trinh Q. Truong, writes that creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would help ensure a robust economic recovery for all Americans. Should congressional efforts fail, Truong urges the Biden administration to take immediate executive action to promote stability in the lives of undocumented immigrants, their families, and their communities.

Source: Why Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants Matters for US Economic Recovery | Immigration

Saunders: Canada is now dependent on the ‘illegal’ workers in our midst. They deserve better

Frustrating that we do not have better numbers than the numbers thrown around by advocates. That being said, paths to regularization are better than being underground:

You may not notice that the crew drywalling your house are visitors from Russia on tourist visas that expired a couple months ago. You don’t ask, and your contractor doesn’t, because their work is good, and drywallers are so hard to find these days.

You may not notice that the brilliant young Indian developer you hired to rework your company’s customer-service platform is a graduate student whose visa does not actually allow her to work. It’s impossible to find anyone else with that talent in this economy.

We may not often notice, but undocumented immigrants – also known by the inaccurate U.S. term “illegals” – have become increasingly integral to our economy, and to our working lives, over the past two years.

First, there were the pandemic border closings and restrictions; then, there were the supply chain crises caused by pandemic labour immobility. Together, these have created gaping labour shortages, causing industries and governments to search desperately for skilled workers wherever they can find them.

Ontario, for example, recently asked Ottawa to double the number of skilled immigrants it usually receives; the province currently has more than 300,000 unfilled positions, mainly in health care, food services, manufacturing and construction. A lot of those are essential to the survival of their enterprises, and a good number of them – although accurate counts are hard to get – are being filled by the undocumented.

In other countries, the pandemic has forced governments to be more honest about their dependency on workers without papers. Ireland, for example, recently launched a plan that, when it comes into effect next week, will grant legal residency to tens of thousands of undocumented workers and ex-students who have been living there for at least four years (or three, if they have children). Irish officials say most have been employed throughout that period. (Ireland is also asking the United States to do the same for undocumented Irish immigrants working there.)

That follows Portugal, which granted temporary regularization to 223,000 undocumented migrants in 2020 and 2021; Spain, which gave legal residency to undocumented agricultural workers and granted work permits to foreigners aged 18 to 21 who were unable legally to work; and Italy, the first country to recognize the legal-worker shortage when, in spring of 2020, it granted a right to legal residency to foreign workers in agriculture, domestic service and care work.

Other countries, forced to acknowledge their economic dependence on people who aren’t permitted to be in the country, have had political campaigns to make them legal residents. Australia, whose border-quarantine program reduced pandemic deaths but prevented seasonal workers from entering, acknowledged hundreds of thousands of crucial workers were undocumented (or had become undocumented because they couldn’t leave when visas expired). It dealt with the problem partly the way Canada did: It met annual immigration targets by drawing on hundreds of thousands of people who were already in the country, giving them permanent residency. That still left a lot of workers with ambiguous papers.

Relying on undocumented workers isn’t just inhumane (they’re more likely to be exploited) and fiscally unwise (they’re less likely to pay taxes). It can also be deadly. That’s what health officials have warned in Brazil, where there are possibly millions of undocumented workers, mainly from the countries of the Andes, whose clandestine existence means they’re unlikely to enter a health clinic to get vaccinated. There’s a big campaign to regularize them in order to prevent further disease spread in what is already the world’s most COVID-19 infected country.

Countries such as Canada and the U.S. have been slower to recognize the pandemic-era role of the undocumented, in good part because of news media and political myths that portray the typical “illegal” as someone who paid a smuggler to sneak them across the border at night. In reality, the overwhelming majority, around the world, are people who entered the country legally at an airport and have overstayed their visa or have one that doesn’t permit work.

In Canada, the issue is rarely mentioned in polite society. But it’s well known in government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently used a mandate letter to instruct his new Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, to “explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.”

It’s a typically Canadian way of facing a problem – quietly, slowly and long after other countries have successfully dealt with it. We ought to find a better way – at the very least for the sake of our many neighbours who make our lives better while living in fear and insecurity.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canada-is-now-dependent-on-the-illegal-workers-in-our-midst-they/

Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

Useful information and context:

Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are on the rise again. Although the majority of people attempting to enter the United States illegally are stopped, this trend could foreshadow an increase in the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population after years of relative stability. Yet the activity at the southwestern U.S. border is only one part of the overall story of unauthorized immigration, as a growing share of this population came from regions other than Mexico or Central America and entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas.

The unauthorized immigrant population is always changing and churning. The total number in the country can remain stable or decline even as new immigrants enter illegally or overstay a visa, because some voluntarily leave the country, are deported, die or become lawful residents. In short, the dynamic nature and pace of migration patterns has resulted in an unauthorized immigrant population whose size and composition has ebbed and flowed significantly over the past 30 years.

Here are key facts about this population and its dynamics.

How we did this
Number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has declined since 2007

The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population rose rapidly from 1990 to 2007 before declining sharply for two years and stabilizing at 10.5 million in 2017.Pew Research Center’s most recent estimate is well below a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, but roughly triple the estimated 3.5 million in 1990. The estimate includes 1.5 million or more people who have temporary permission to stay in the U.S. through programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as people awaiting decisions on their asylum applications; most could be subject to deportation if government policy changed.

U.S. unauthorized immigrant populations declined or held steady for most regions of birth since 2007

Mexican unauthorized immigrants are no longer the majority of those living illegally in the U.S. As of 2017, 4.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. were born in Mexico, while 5.5 million were from other countries, the first time since at least 1990 that those from Mexico (47% in 2017) were not a majority of the total. In 2007, an estimated 6.9 million unauthorized immigrants were Mexican, and 5.3 million were born in other countries. The population of Mexican-born unauthorized immigrants declined after 2007 because the number of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell dramatically – and as a result, more left the U.S. than arrived.

The number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico ticked up between 2007 and 2017, from 5.3 million to 5.5 million. The population of unauthorized immigrants born in Central America and Asia increased during this time, while birth regions of South America and Europe saw declines. There was not a statistically significant change among other large regions, including the Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

A rising share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants apparently arrived in the country legally but overstayed their visas. Nearly all people apprehended while attempting to enter the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border are from either Mexico or Central America. This stands in contrast to the origins of visa overstays.

In recent years, immigrants from countries outside of Mexico and Central America accounted for almost 90% of overstays, and in 2017, there were more than 30 overstays for every border apprehension for these countries. Although the Census Bureau data Pew Research Center uses to estimate the size of the unauthorized immigrant population does not indicate directly whether someone arrived with legal status, the origin countries of immigrants in these sources provide indirect evidence. From 2007 to 2017, the share of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) from regions other than Central America and Mexico – the vast majority of whom are overstays – increased from 37% to 63%. At the same time, the share of new unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell from 52% to 20%.

Short-term residents decline and long-term residents rise as share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants

The decline in the arrival of new unauthorized immigrants in recent years has resulted in a population that is increasingly settled in the U.S. About two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants (66%) had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years as of 2017, up from 41% 10 years earlier. Conversely, newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) accounted for 20% of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2017 versus 30% in 2007. For Mexicans, the pattern is even more pronounced. The vast majority (83%) of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico have been in the country more than 10 years, while only 8% have lived in the U.S. for five years or less.

Source: Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

USA: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study

Not surprising:

More than two-thirds of undocumented immigrant workers have frontline jobs considered “essential” to the U.S. fight against Covid-19, according to a new study released Wednesday by pro-immigration reform group FWD.US.

Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the study, which is based on the 2019 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau. The study also estimated that nearly one in five essential workers is an immigrant.

By contrast, the Trump administration has argued that protecting American jobs against foreign workers is crucial to fixing the economic harm caused by Covid-19.

In April, Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to “ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.” In June, Trump extended the order through the end of the year.

Undocumented immigrants make up 11 percent of agriculture workers, 2 percent of healthcare workers and 6 percent of food services and production workers, the study estimated.

Elizabeth Valencia, 54, on Temporary Protected Status that allows some Salvadorans to work and live in the United States, said she was the only geriatric nursing assistant serving 28 Covid-19 positive residents at a nursing home in Maryland earlier this year after an outbreak affected the staff.

Valencia has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and has worked in the nursing home for almost 18 years, starting as cleaning staff before she trained to be a nursing assistant.

Valencia said all of her co-workers on the floor where she cares for dementia patients are immigrants.

“[The residents] cannot survive by themselves,” she said. “They need us.”

The study also found that 70 percent of the immigrants working in essential jobs have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years and 60 percent speak English.

Nearly one million of the essential workers are “Dreamers” protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the study found. Although DACA, enacted by former President Barack Obama, won a challenge by the Trump administration in a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, a new case in Texas could end the policy.

DACA recipient Jonathan Rodas works as an operating room assistant at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center while he is attending nursing school. Rodas and his entire household, including his undocumented stepfather, all tested positive for Covid-19 in July. They have now all fully recovered and no one was hospitalized.

But Rodas said he was especially worried about his stepfather needing to be hospitalized because he, like other undocumented immigrants, does not have health insurance. Rodas is now back to work. He said he is not surprised by the study that found one in five essential workers are immigrants.

“There’s not a lot of people out there who want to do that job because they’re scared of it,” Rodas said, talking about working in a hospital during a pandemic. “I’m scared of it. But I do it for the patient. The passion that I have to help people out.”

Source: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study