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On International Migrants Day

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On International Migrants Day

MIGRANTE Canada

Dec 18, 2022

Today, on the 22nd anniversary of International Migrants Day, Migrante Canada recognizes the important and essential contributions of migrant workers worldwide to the economies of their host countries in the Global North, including the temporary foreign workers and caregivers in Canada.

We also mark this international day to highlight the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers publicly and visibly, including the lack of worker protections, the limited or no access to essential services like healthcare, the actual and ongoing threats of detention and deportation, the rising racism in their host countries, coupled with the abandonment and gross neglect of the governments in their home countries.

For Filipino men and women, the economic conditions of the lack of agricultural and industrial development in the Philippines, the continuing subservience to big foreign interests and local elites, and the socio-political conditions of the lack of basic rights — from the right to work to having just and decent conditions of work to the protection of basic rights and freedoms — have plagued the Philippines for more than half a century and have continued to drive out Filipinos to work abroad leaving their children, families, and their communities behind. There are 10 million Filipinos who live and work abroad as land-based workers and seafarers. Every year, more than a million Filipinos leave the Philippines to work abroad, driven out by the government’s Labour Export Policy. 

The first six months of the US-Marcos II regime have brought no significant change to the lives of overseas Filipino workers. It has only exposed itself as the main recruiter for Filipinos to be offered up as cheap and docile labour to other countries. The Department of Migrant Workers under Susan “Toots” Ople is nowhere to be found while thousands of migrants demand the scrapping of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and other mandatory state fees.

In the crisis of global capitalism, we see international migration and the rise of global labour policies and programs for cheap and flexible labour from sending and receiving countries. Neoliberalism intensifies the commodification of people where immigrants provide a steady supply of cheap, low-paid, disposable, and vulnerable labour force and become milking cows and source of billions of dollars of cash flow of sending countries.

The precarious labour and immigration situation of migrants in Canada led to deportation and loss of status of thousands of migrant workers.  Migrante Canada raises the call for the regularization of status of all workers in Canada. There are approximately over 500,000 undocumented and out of status people in the country. Having regular status is one step in removing the precarity of undocumented persons such as migrant workers, caregivers, and international students and allowing them to exercise their rights as migrants and as workers. Many of these migrants are victimized by labour traffickers, by fake and unscrupulous immigration consultants and recruiters who spread disinformation and extort money from migrant workers, or by procedural injustice.

While we work on the campaign for regularization, Migrante Canada calls for a stop to deportations and detentions, more so when the Canadian government deports an average of 35 people per day over the past nine years, including to countries with moratoriums on deportation.

We continue to push back against red-tagging here in Canada. We promote and protect the rights and welfare of our compatriots, and work in solidarity with fellow migrants in their campaigns against deportation of workers and their families.

We are especially inspired by the significant gains and small victories of our work in Canada as we fight for migrant justice and a better world for all migrants. We highlight the two families of migrants in Alberta who were granted reprieves from their deportations: Filipina Evangeline Cayanan with her six-year-old daughter McKenna and the Mexican family of Luis Ubando Nolasco, Cynthia Campos and their two daughters. In Toronto, the federal court stayed the deportation of Mexican health worker Claudia Zamorano, her husband and nine-year-old daughter. In Edmonton, the federal court deferred the deportation order for undocumented worker leader of Migrante Canada Danilo de Leon.

Migrante Canada also raises the appeal and call for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina human trafficking victim who remains in death row in Indonesia. Mary Jane is one of the 56 Filipinos who languish in jail and on death row in various countries.

As Filipino migrant workers and organizers, we celebrate International Migrants Day by calling on all our member organizations and chapters to continue to wage militant campaigns and political struggles for migrant justice, to address the root causes of forced migration and to persist in our painstaking organizing work, to collaborate hard to strengthen our broad united front and alliances with host peoples, and to always link arms and march in step with our people’s organizations in the Philippines for a democratic, just and free society.

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18 December 2022

Migrante Canada

Danilo de Leon, Chair of Migrante Canada

Stef Martin, Secretary General, Migrante Canada