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One Week to Oppose Sexist Temporary Immigration Law

April 19 2011, Toronto - On Saturday, March 26th, after being found in contempt of Parliament, the Harper government attempted to quietly sneak in changes to family sponsorship and immigration legislation. Harper is proposing replacing permanent residence with temporary status for two years or more for spouses and partners sponsored as part of the family class, "spouse or common-law partner in Canada" class category who are in a relationship of two years or less with their sponsors at the time of application.

The proposed regulations require that sponsored spouses or partners remain in a 'bona fide' relationship with their sponsor for a period of two years or more with temporary status before being able to access permanent residence. This means that spouses, mostly women, who choose to leave abusive relationships in less than two years risk losing their immigration status in Canada. It also means that migrants arriving in Canada will be in a state of limbo for two years or more further entrenching temporariness in the Immigration system.

Though the Tories argue for a smaller government, these immigration policies smack of Big Brother, with the government wishing to push its way into immigrant bedrooms to establish 'bona fide' relationships.

Forcing migrant families, particularly women, to choose between immigration status and living in abusive, undesirable, loveless or unwanted relationships is fundamentally unjust. The very idea of conditional-permanent status is contradictory and showcases the lies that exemplify Harper, Kenny and their cronies.

On May 1, 2011, International Workers Day, migrant women of color, transpeople and their allies will join thousands against these ongoing attacks on migrants, particularly women, to ensure justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The Harper Cons have begun their election campaign by mobilizing xenophobic sentiments drumming up the trope of 'bogus marriages'. Similar to the media-assault on refugee claimants deemed 'bogus' or 'human smugglers' – the Tories are setting up people of color as fraudulent outsiders, intent on creating an aura of uncertainty and fear for migrant communities and fanning racist hatred.

This newest legislation comes from organizations such as Canadians Against Immigration Fraud, founded by Sam Benet, after his daughter-in-law escaped physical abuse and cruelty by his son. These are the types of men that Harper seeks to make allies with as he panders to the ‘ethnic’ vote.

The Harper regime is bent on attacking migrant women and women of color. They have refused to fund safe and accessible abortions outside Canada. They have expanded temporary foreign work programs such as the Live-In Caregiver Program - where racialized women from the global South work in Canada in precarious conditions exploited for their labour. Meanwhile working class women across the country are denied affordable child care. This February 2011, the Harper government revoked undocumented women’s ability to seek shelter or services without fear by revoking an important policy won by the Shelter Sanctuary Status campaign barring immigration enforcement from Anti-Violence Against Women Agencies. And now, this government is trying to take away a woman’s ability to have immigration status if she chooses to leave her spouse.

Making permanent residency revocable for two years or more is a critical shift in Canadian immigration policy. These proposed changes are part of a larger, concerted effort to cement-shut the very few avenues left for people to obtain permanent residency status upon arrival in Canada , an effort designed to systematically swell the pool of people with precarious status in this country.

On May 1st, migrant women, transpeople, people of color and their allies will take to the streets to say NO MORE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! On May 1st, migrant women and allies across the city will march for self determination, for the freedom to make safe decisions and choices that impact our lives, to live a life free of abuse, violence, detention and deportation, and to create status for all! 1pm. Parkdale.
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