Comments have been made on a number of occasions by this newspaper and others that the removal / deportation of large number of persons “without status” make no sense.
It is commendable that our new federal government is accepting thousands of Syrian refugees and receiving positive daily publicity but at the same time they are tearing family members apart and sending them back to hopelessness and insurmountable hardships.
Can you tell me where is the common sense, logic and compassion? On one hand we are settling the displaced and on the other hand we are displacing the settled.
There are literally thousands of people living in this country for years, if not decades, who are undocumented or without status (illegal). The term illegal is stereotypical, however, because other than living here without papers, these are hard working people who fill crucial services that Canadians either can’t or won’t do. There’s is nothing illegal about them.
Removing them from Canada because of lack of status therefore is silly. They are already here, already established, cost the government nothing and have contributed to society. To deport them will cost millions of dollars and rid the country of people who are assets rather than liabilities.
Replacing them with newcomers who are not familiar with the country will cost millions and millions more in retraining and other social services.
A 45-year-old man from the Caribbean recently told me he has been here for a number of years and has worked for the same employer for more than a year in the construction industry. Although his employer is aware of his status he is paid $20 per hour with a lot of overtime and because of his skill he believes he could get more than the present rate if he had a work permit.
However, the employer deducts $700 or more biweekly which the employer claims is statutory deductions for government. In addition, he further claims that15% is deducted from his net salary which the employer says is for HST.
This person is not only being exploited by his employer and ripped off big time. He is helpless and cannot complain.
If you look at his hands they are like a grater, as rough as a gravel heap, a clear indication of his hard work and contribution to the economy of this country, albeit as one exploited.
John Persaud, a well known businessman (Canadian Superbilt Shutters) and community worker, states that “it is very difficult to get a skilled worker in the construction industry as they are the backbone of our housing industry and we should allow them to stay in Canada. Removing them will result in an acute shortage of labour and this will hurt our economy.”
Prior to the 2006 election, Liberal Immigration Minister Joe Volpe made a commitment that he would make every effort to regularize the status of undocumented persons once they met security re1quirements. Unfortunately this was not carried out by his Conservative replacement.
Now, with the Liberals once again in power it is hoped the present Minister of Immigration John McCallum will carry out the commitment of his former colleague which would be consistent with Liberal policy.
While it is understandable than an amnesty sends the wrong message and might encourage people to subvert the law to get here, there are unique circumstances that must be considered.
There are a large number of persons under the radar but the most compelling reason of all is the fact that thousands of people facing deportation have been here for years, many with Canadian spouses, children born here and not dependent upon the government.
A program should be established to regularize this such as an open work permit for two years, not having a criminal record and so on before they embark on permanent residence.
Merry Christmas to all and a happy and safe New Year.
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.