Sorry for the silence. Been too fired, too running-at-full-steam tired, and too blocked-as-a-writer to be penning much. Life is work/home, home/work, fretting about bills and the future and whether I’m doing things right. I went to a protest this weekend, and I walked away from it feeling more unsettled and alienated than I have in while. This new-ish situation of so many sudden deportations has had me twisted in a helpless fury these past few weeks, though really, it’s had a lot of people worried for a long time. Here’s part of the scoop, copied and pasted, as I ready my thoughts for a longer piece:
Subject: Fwd: Help us to distribute the Petition to stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants
Please scroll down to the the petition below.
Many of you already know how I feel about this. I’ve had a member of my own family deported, and have ties with several others who have been, or are currently, in this same predicament. How many 7-year-old fugitives do you know? I know one, her name is Julia and I taught her the alphabet. Her parents are political exiles, activists who would be persecuted and hurt in their home country of Brazil, and they would rather live underground here than put their daughter in that kind of danger. Everyone has their reasons for coming here.
I’m composing something (long and fiery) on the subject, as well on the broader subject of citizenship (in a so-called “multicultural” and “global” city), but in the meantime: Please take a moment to read, reflect, discuss, sign (if you will), and pass it on…
If any of this is unclear or you’d like more info on the situation (which has been escalating and building to this point over the past two years in Toronto — though by no means is it restricted to this city), please get in touch with me. I’m down to talk.
For those out of the loop — the Conservative government has just reversed a decision made by the previous Liberal government to forge a compromise with the thousands of primarily Portuguese (and to a lesser extent, Brazilian, Latino, etc) underground workers that make up the backbone of several local economies (construction and cleaning, especially). A large portion of these people have tried for years to become full citizens or acquire immigrant/refugee status, but have been shamelessly exploited and duped by arms-length agencies and immigration “consultants” that took their money and fed them ill-informed advice. Now, families that have been here for years — some for decades, with kids my own age, born and raised here — are being given two weeks to sell their property, sell their cars, drop out of school, leave their lives behind, and start afresh in a country that, for many, has become foreign to them. For one, it makes no economic sense, given the building boom and worker shortage on our hands. For two, it’s a shameful way to treat a fellow human being, regardless of class, level of education, race or origin.
Also, please note the language used here — “stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants” — not “illegals”. No one is illegal. And this is not a coincidence. Any one of you could be affected by this. Many of you have.
“STOP THE DEPORTATIONS OF HARD WORKING FAMILIES IN CANADA”http://www.PetitionOnline.com/PCNC/
To: Canadian House of Commons
We, the undersigned, wish to express deep concern with the Canadian Government’s decision to deport thousands of hard working individuals and families from our country. We believe that pursuing the current strategy of strict enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act not only violates Canada’s legacy and its values, it is seriously detrimental to Canada’s economy and future prosperity.
WHEREAS: Canada has a serious labour shortage in construction, trades and manual labour – these are jobs which Canadians and other immigrants do not want to take on and that these hard working families are filling.
WHEREAS: These sectors are ignored by Immigration Canada – our immigration policy ignores the right of a willing employer to hire a willing blue-collar worker – there are currently no legal channels to apply to immigrate into many of the skilled trades that need to be filled in our labour force.
WHEREAS: Canada’s population is aging & failing to grow at rates that will sustain our economy – we need to ramp up immigration by as least 100,000 people annually – we have also consistently failed to meet our immigration targets.
WHEREAS: The history of Canadian immigration, since Confederation, comprises a mixture of people seeking freedom and opportunity, arriving at our shores through formal and informal channels – informal undocumented workers have always been part of the Canadian mosaic and our failure to normalize their status puts pressure on wages, fosters abuses by unscrupulous individuals, fails to recognize the important contribution that these workers are making to our economy and is a stain on Canada’s humanitarian tradition.
AND WHEREAS: There is an urgent need to protect and maintain the integrity of our refugee determination system, which can only be achieved by an immigration system that is fair, balanced and truly reflects the needs of Canadian society and Canadian employers.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian government take the following steps to address this situation:
1. Introduce an immediate moratorium on further deportations of families in Canada
2. Establish a worker permit system, whereby any person that has been working for 2 years or more receives a two-year work permit. At the end of the two years, given a solid track record and no criminal record, invite the family to apply for landed status.
3. Fix Canada’s immigration point system so that it reflects the full range of labour force needs in Canada; particularly the right of a willing employer to hire a willing worker.
We the undersigned….