Advocacy group urges federal government to grant permanent status to undocumented migrants

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Advocacy group calling for permanent residency for undocumented migrants
WATCH: Human-rights advocates are calling on the federal government to do more to help undocumented migrants arriving into Canada. Solidarity Across Borders wants permanent residency granted to all of those currently in the country. The organization argues many workers face abuse, have no access to health care and no resources to protect them. Global's Tim Sargeant reports – Jul 12, 2022

Solidarity Across Borders is calling on the federal government to do more to protect temporary foreign nationals and undocumented migrants.

The advocacy group wants the Immigration Minister to grant temporary residents and undocumented migrants permanent residency status.

“Let these people work normally like everybody else. Paying taxes and have access to health care and everything like everybody else,” Hady Anne, of Solidarity Across Borders, told Global News.

The federal government says there is no accurate figure on the number of undocumented migrants living in Canada but officials estimate it be in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

Advocates argue these people have no access to basic services like health care and education and they’re often targets of abuse or discrimination with few resources to protect them.

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“The government treats us like we don’t exist and that we don’t have the right to be here. But we are here, we work here, we live here, we have formed our families here,” Loreto Morales of the Immigrant Workers Centre told Global News.

Last year, more than 400,000 temporary residents were granted permanent status — a record number.

Read more: Ottawa starting to transfer ‘small number’ of asylum seekers to Ontario from Quebec

Supporters say more still needs to be done.

“We don’t mind, necessarily, that there are background checks and whatnot. But what we don’t want is that they limit, for instance, limit according to how long you’ve been in Canada, limiting to the age, limiting to which country you come from,” Annick Legault, an immigration lawyer, told Global News.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser addressed the matter in an email to Global News.

“Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will continue to explore methods in which we can improve the process of transitioning foreign nationals from temporary status to permanent residency,” Aidan Strickland, of the Office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, wrote to Global News.

A former senior official at the IRCC tells Global News the Canadian Borders need to be controlled and immigration managed.

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“That it’s a managed process. Not just anybody can come through here,” Andrew Griffith said.

Griffith says immigration plays a vital role in Canadian society for economic and other reasons but a set number of migrants needs to be established to control the strain on existing social services.

“How many people can we realistically accept, settle and integrate in a given year? Is 400,000 the magic number? Is 500,000? Or should it be more like 200 to 300 thousand?” he said.

A demonstration organized by Solidarity Across Border is planned on July 17th at Place Émilie-Gamelin in Montreal.

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