We in No One Is Illegal (Toronto) welcome the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights (Canada) wholeheartedly, as a member organization and as a comrade to sister struggles across Turtle Island and around the world.
You can sign a petition by the Coalition here: http://migrantrights.ca/en/take-action/#email
Canada exists on stolen land, built by the stolen labour of millions of workers over centuries - migrants, slaves, settlers, and Indigenous peoples. We have always approached our work - fighting detentions, deportations, and secret trials of people with precarious immigration status, and demanding access to good quality services without fear for all peoples – from the standpoint that Canada itself is illegal. Canada is a settler colonial, global imperialist power, profiting on stolen land while denying dignity and freedom to migrants and other workers. Since colonization began, Indigenous nations, enslaved and formerly enslaved peoples, and racialized migrants have struggled for self-determination. The struggles of migrant workers, today as much as yesterday, reflect that ongoing history.
The freedom to move, the freedom to return, and the freedom to stay are central to the struggle for migrant workers’ liberation – we can’t only reform this or that temporary work program, but we need to root our specific struggles in a revolutionary anti-colonial struggle that demands that no one is free until everyone (and the lands we occupy) is free.
Migrant workers’ struggles aren’t an isolated issue. Migrant workers face specific struggles (indentured work relationships and second-tier workers’ rights, four years caps on their residency and closed pathways to permanent residency, and parasitic and predatory recruiters, among others), and like all people without full immigration status, they struggle against indefinite detention, deportation, service denial, and the threat of being torn from the lives they have built here.
Poor people, citizens or not (but especially women, racialized people, dis/abled people, and queer and trans folks), have to fight tooth and nail to hold onto increasingly precarious and underpaid jobs, while being denied full access to services that we all need to flourish. Black, Indigenous, and brown people are profiled and murdered by the police in the name of defending “social order” in our city. Indigenous people continue to face centuries-old colonial violence on their lands and nationhood. These are struggles that connect us all, and form the basis of what No One Is Illegal and other groups in Toronto have demanded in the struggle for a Solidarity City where we defend our people.
We recognize that the development of “migrant worker” as an exploitable category of worker with less rights stems directly from Canada’s racist and colonial past and present. It is no coincidence that Canada opened itself up to non-white immigration in 1967, then developed an apartheid system for mostly racialized migrant workers only six years later. We have seen the same colonial racism play out in the stratified and brutally inadequate refugee system, currently exemplified in Canada’s pitiful response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Family reunification for migrant families has been slashed across the board, including a moratorium on parent and grandparent sponsorship between 2011 and 2014 and the launching of the “Supervisa.”
Let us also remember the colonial security regimes of old continue today, especially the security certificate, which can only be used against immigrants, and suspends their right to see evidence held against them. Refugees, temporary foreign workers, sponsored family members, sans-papiers - we’re less worried about the categories people end up moving under, but we appreciate the differences and stark consequences these state-imposed categories can create. Canada has systematically closed pathways for working class migrants from the Global South to live dignified lives with full status - we stand in solidarity with all migrants looking to move, return, or stay. To push past these bureaucratic backlogs and categorical pigeonholes, we demand a comprehensive regularization program for all undocumented and precarious status residents and status on arrival for all new migrants. We demand Status For All.
We enthusiastically welcome the CMWRC as a push to end a form of global apartheid that rich imperialist states such as Canada have pioneered. The goal, however, isn’t just to gain equality and inclusion into a colonial settler state that is complicit in the deaths and displacement of millions here and across the Global South through its wars, its vicious corporations, its assault on the planet’s ecosystems, and its foreign policies. States such as Canada and their policies and activities around the globe are at the heart of the displacement of so many migrants – as such, we support the struggles of all people to move, to return, and to stay.
No One Is Illegal, Canada is Illegal! We will continue to struggle until all of our communities are free.
No One Is Illegal (Toronto)