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

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The federal authorities is aiming to create a program that may present a path to everlasting residency for as much as 500,000 immigrants who’re working in Canada however don’t have official standing. 

This system would have unprecedented scope and apply to folks whose visa or work permits had expired, and to these whose refugee purposes might have been denied or blocked as a consequence of a moratorium on deportations to their nation, based on Radio-Canada. 

“We’re trying into methods to regularize individuals who reside in Canada with a precarious standing,” a authorities supply, talking on situation of anonymity, advised Radio-Canada.

As much as 500,000 folks could possibly be eligible, based on the supply, who was not approved to talk publicly on the matter. 

In his mandate letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser late final yr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requested Fraser to “additional discover methods of regularizing standing for undocumented staff who’re contributing to Canadian communities.”

Immigration Ministry spokesperson Rémi Larivière confirmed that work to finish that mandate “is underway,” and that the ministry is consulting with college researchers, specialists and trade advocates.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser was requested final yr by the prime minister to ‘discover methods of regularizing standing for undocumented staff.’ (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ministry officers have approached a number of advocacy teams in current weeks and over the summer time to seek the advice of them on this system, Larivière stated. Potential standards and a launch date are nonetheless unknown.

“We’re hoping for an inclusive program that may assist many individuals, however it’s nonetheless obscure,” stated Hady Anne, a spokesperson for the Montreal-based Solidarity With out Borders.

Whereas there have been packages to regularize the standing of immigrant teams earlier than, none have included so many individuals, says Rivka Augenfeld, a lifelong refugee advocate and the previous president the Desk de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, a working desk of Quebec immigration organizations.

Quebec Premier François Legault’s immigration insurance policies have some advocates apprehensive about this system’s attainable effectiveness inside the province. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

“It is by no means been seen,” Augenfeld stated of the forthcoming program’s anticipated scope. However she warned that for it to be efficient, this system will want “the desire of a great minister in addition to the prime minister’s assist.”

Short-term staff and asylum seekers wouldn’t be capable of apply — together with the hundreds who’ve crossed at Roxham Highway in Lacolle, Que., an unofficial crossing level more and more widespread amongst migrants coming into Canada from the USA. 

There’s a massive backlog in processing asylum purposes, that means many individuals wait years earlier than even having an opportunity to inform their story earlier than an Immigration and Refugee Board decide. 

Frantz André, who has helped tons of Haitian asylum seekers settle in Montreal, says it’s in Quebec’s curiosity to simply accept extra immigrants. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Lisa Middlemiss, the president of the Canadian Bar Affiliation, says that whereas the brand new program can be a constructive step for folks with precarious standing who’ve lived and labored within the nation for years, it might seem unfair to migrants who’ve momentary standing in Canada with out the potential for acquiring everlasting residency. 

“It is formidable and attention-grabbing, however it might generate loads of frustrations,” Middlemiss stated. 

Larivière, the ministry spokesperson, stated Ottawa would “proceed to assist inclusive immigration packages that meet Canada’s financial wants and gasoline our progress.” 

Would Quebec purchase in?

Advocates reminiscent of Augenfeld and Anne concern Quebec’s authorities might intervene to restrict this system inside the province. 

In the course of the pandemic, when the federal authorities created a program permitting asylum seekers working in well being care to use for everlasting residency, Premier François Legault’s authorities objected to increasing the standards to staff who didn’t straight take care of sufferers, reminiscent of cooking employees and cleaners.

The transfer excluded hundreds and was strongly condemned by immigration advocates. 

Asylum seekers wouldn’t be eligible for the brand new program — together with the hundreds who’ve crossed at Roxham Highway in Lacolle, Que., an unofficial crossing level amongst migrants coming into Canada from the U.S. (Charles Krupa/The Related Press)

Within the spring of 2021, Legault additionally declined to take part in one other federal program providing important staff and graduates a brand new pathway to everlasting residency. 

Legault was re-elected on Monday with a convincing majority of 90 out of 125 seats within the Nationwide Meeting.

He got here beneath fireplace main as much as the election after he related immigration with violence and extremism and later stated it could a “bit suicidal” for Quebec to extend its immigration ranges, insisting that accepting extra immigrants entails a menace to the French language. 

“We’re apprehensive Quebec will complicate issues,” stated Anne of Solidarity In opposition to Borders.

Augenfeld additionally raised the chance that Quebec might “throw a wrench” into the plan for immigrants within the province. 

As a result of this system is predicted to incorporate folks from international locations for which Canada has moratoriums on deportations, Haitian nationals, largely based mostly in Quebec, might qualify. 

Frantz André, who has helped tons of of Haitians apply for asylum within the province, hopes Legault shall be extra open this time round. 

“We’re hoping he’ll be extra beneficiant,” André stated. “These folks have been residing in system that’s damaged for too lengthy. They’ve demonstrated that they’re actual residents.”

Reached by Radio-Canada, the Quebec premier’s workplace declined to reply questions on the subject. 

“We have had no data from the federal authorities on the topic,” a spokesperson stated. 

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