Aug 152022
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

In 1973, Pierre Elliott Trudeau enacted a regularization program resulting in 39,000 undocumented migrants living in so-called canada being eventually recognized as citizen. While there have been other regularization programs over the years, this was, by far, the largest one implemented [1].

You might have noticed that this large regularization program took place almost 50 years ago, by the father of the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau. And if there’s something that Trudeau can be relied upon, is to do some grand commemorative gesture for the occasion.

Because we are really in a perfect storm situation for migrant regularization. First, we are facing a serious labor shortage. Many essential jobs cannot find any takers because of the difficult work conditions and bad salaries. Undocumented migrants are currently working, of course, since most people cannot survive in canada without a job. But without a valid Social Insurance Number, many jobs remain inaccessible, most especially in government positions.

Second, there are already a lot of undocumented migrants in essential healthcare and food production jobs, because they are the shittiest jobs anyone can do. And we need them to continue to function as a society, a lot more than we need grubby bankers, tax haven accountants and slimy corporate lawyers, anyway. But it’s getting kinda shameful how the government ends up paying undocumented migrants for these jobs. Downright embarassing, even, given how badly they are treated.

And third, Trudeau’s minority government is in dire need of stealing votes from the left. Therefore, the Liberal government introduced Motion M-44 in May 2021 to get the ball rolling [2]. But while it might sound like a wide sweeping regularization program, let’s not be fooled: they want to steal votes to the left, while not alienating their racist right. As it stands now, it might only be a liberal regularization program: by and for the industry, the bankers, the stock market. And not for, you know, the actual people being currently refused entry to citizenship.

The reality of undocumented migrant lives

Ok, so why would we care? We want to destroy the so-called canadian state anyway, why would we want to see more people accepted by it? Why does citizenship in a colonial state matters?

Well, for starters, we don’t have in so-called canada the same infrastructure of support for undocumented migrants that there is south of the border. There are not that many non-profit organizations in here, and those present are often overwhelmed with people still clinging to the official citizenship pipelines. On the legal end of things, our racist provincial governments have not enabled the kind of loopholes we can see in California. And municipalities have very little power, especially since the police is controlled at the provincial and federal levels. Not that Projet Montreal’s “let’s fund the pigs no matter what they ask for” would have changed anything anyway.

Healthcare for undocumented migrants is a macabre joke. If you don’y have your “sun card”, you’re pretty much doomed. You either have to pay through the nose to see a doctor and get a prescription, and you still have to pay full price for medication. And that is if the doctor doesn’t denounce you to the pigs. Them doctors sur take that Hypocrite Oat to heart…

Anarchists in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal) will recall one undocumented comrade who gradually went blind, as she could not afford the doctors’ appointments and medications which were available to all of us. And another comrade, whose leg almost burst open from blood circulation problems, and who could not affort to get treated either. Living undocumented has a cost, a cost measured in human lives.

School ain’t much better either. Undocumented migrants recently won the right for their children to attend middle and high school, but it remains very limited [3]. They are always at risk of being denounced. Some schools will break government guidelines and refuse undocument children nonetheless. Because why a racist government would sanction a racist administrator? For those who overcome these hurdles and manage to finish high school, few prospects await them. And what opportunities are open nowadays to someone with just a high school degree?

Because work is ever so much worse. Undocumented migrants cannot complain to the CNESST, and are therefore not protected by health and safety guidelines, nor by minimum wage laws. Recent articles showed how official temporary migrant workers are mistreated in fields and farms, what do you think happens to undocumented migrants?

And that’s not covering the worst of the worst, the fucking police. Undocumented migrants are constantly one police stop away from getting deported. And guess what happens when they actually need to be protected from a rapist or a violent spouse? The SPVM is well-known as a “Deportation Machine That Hunts Down Non-Status Immigrants”, to quote an article from the McGill Daily [4]. And they probably jerk off while doing it too.

So yeah, fuck the state, destroy it, burn it to the fucking ground. But still, that shitty piece of citizenship paper still means a world of difference between life and death for a lot of people. And with a theorized 500,000 undocument migrants here, that’s a lot of pain and suffering that could be alleviated.

The fascists and liberals have no problem sleeping on the blood and bones of undocumented migrants. Can we?

What are the obstacles to expect?

If you follow federal politics, then it is obvious that Trudeau is quite heavy on symbolism, and pretty light on substance. The Trudeau government makes a lot of grandiose gestures but is often lackluster when it comes to actual action. After all, their goal here is not to actually regularize migrants, but just to steal some vote to the left. And maybe provide some cheap labour to their financiers.

So there’s a real chance that the regularization proposed might only be window dressing. That it might only regularize people who would be regularized eventually anyway. So we must put pressure on the government to ensure this regularization proposal is as wide and inclusive as possible. the canadian-based “Migrants Rights Network” has compiled a list of demands, their main ones being [5]:

  • The goal of the program must be regularization of all undocumented people
    residing in Canada.
  • The program should be permanent and available on an ongoing basis because the
    factors leading to people becoming undocumented will continue for the
    foreseeable future.
  • Applications must be simple, such that undocumented people are able to apply
    themselves, online via mobile devices or on paper. There should be a large
    selection of acceptable documents for the purposes of establishing identity and
    residence in Canada, none should be mandatory.
  • People should not be excluded based on past failures to comply with immigration
    law.
  • There must be a prohibition on detentions and deportations throughout the course
    of the regularization program; without this, the regularization program will fail as
    undocumented people will not apply.
  • No one should be deported if their application is rejected.

///

The other major obstacle is, quite obviously, the racist and white supremacist provincial CAQ government. The CAQ made no secret that they want full control of immigration in Quebec. They have already made legally dubious moves against immigrants, whether through:

  • Bill 9, which threw 18,000 immigration dossiers in the trash,
  • Bill 21, which blocks many non-christians from teaching jobs,
  • Bill 96, which forces migrants to learn french in six months.

The CAQ would almost certainly try to block any regularization efforts, unless the undocumented migrants were both french and white.

///

And finally, the other obstacle would probably be your unfriendly neighborhood fascist. The far-right propaganda against migrant workers is widespread, the most popular being that more foreign workers means lower wages and fewer housing opportunities.

First, let’s be honest about wages. The pandemic convinced a lot of baby boomers to retire a bit earlier than expected, leaving a large number of jobs available. Simple free market economics would theorizes that a workers’ shortage would therefore mean salaray raises. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case so far, and nothing shows that it will improve in the future. Or even match the inflation.

Evidently, our capitalist masters will not increase wages, no matter what. They would rather let the job left undone, and pile the work on the remaining workers, than pay us a penny more. The only significant gains made in recent months were in unionized jobs, and only after difficult struggles, and often long strikes. As the IWW slogan goes: if we want better work conditions, we need to organize. The “free market” has always been stacked against workers: a few more migrants, who are already here and already working anyway won’t change a damn thing.

Second, housing. As housing committees in Tio’tia:ke and elsewhere keep hammering: we don’t have a housing shortage, we have an affordable housing shortage. There are a shittons of apartments held empty for speculation purposes. The financiarization of the housing market means that you are no longer dealing with your regular scummy landlord, but with a scummy stock market broker landlord. Our old landlords could pressure us as much as they wanted, but in the end they needed at least some money to pay their mortgage at the end of the month. Deals could be cooerced, and limited rent strikes could work. Our new landlords have 50,000 appartments and don’t give a shit if a few of them don’t pay them for a few months, while they fill the paperwork to throw your ass out in the street at 2AM in -40 weather. Again, more migrants who already live here won’t change a thing either.

Or in other words, don’t punch down on comrades down on their luck. Punch up to the bosses and the landlords: they’re the own making all our lives miserable. And maybe punch your local fascist while your there.

What should we do?

The Trudeau government should publish a first draft of their regularization law in late September 2022. This should gives us an idea on where Trudeau want to go with that program, and subsequent reactions from the CAQ and the far-right should give us an idea of what kind of obstacles we would be facing.

It was easier to pressure the government in 1973 because the undocumented migrants included a large portion of white people, mostly war resisters from the united states fleeing the vietnam draft. We don’t have this luxury today. Any gain we make will have to be made despite the white supremacists currently vying for power.

But thankfully, others have paved the way before us. The 39,000 persons regularized in 1973 might sound like a lot, but it was merely 0.1% of the population of canada at the time. These 39,000 are massively dwarfed compared to recent regularization programs in other countries. In 1981, france regularized 132,000 migrants, or 0.2% of their population at the time, twice as many as canada. In 2005, spain regularized 570,000 people, or 1.3% of their population at the time. It is therefore possible to do it much better than in 1973, and the mobilization behind the regularization campaigns in france and spain can provide us with a lot of good arguments.

After all, these undocumented migrants are already here. They work with us, eat with us, live with us. It’s time they enjoyed the same rights that we all do.

///

The canadian-based Migrant Rights Network calls for days of action on Agust 16th and September 18th: https://migrantrights.ca/

Solidarity across borders (SAB) organizes events in Tio’tia:ke and might plan something for this Fall: https://www.solidarityacrossborders.org/en/

The french radio show “Les Apatrides anonymes” presents up-to-date news on migrant issues in so-called canada and elsewhere around the world: http://www.apanad.koumbit.org/emissions-de-radio-2022/

Love and rage!

///

[1] See: https://www.kairoscanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/The-Regularization-of-NonStatus-Immigrants-in-Canada-1960-2004.pdf for the different programs.

[2] See: https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en/89339/motions/11528727 This was followed by a mandate letter to the minister of immigration: https://pm.gc.ca/en/mandate-letters/2021/12/16/minister-immigration-refugees-and-citizenship-mandate-letter It laconically only mentions “Build on existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities”.

[3] See: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-144-41-1.html (in French only).

[4] See: https://www.mcgilldaily.com/2020/10/opinion-spvm-a-deportation-machine-that-hunts-down-non-status-immigrants/

[5] You can find the full document here: https://migrantrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MRN-Brief-Regularization-July-2022.pdf