Migrant protest demands regularization and end of “scapegoating” – Montreal

Dozens of migrants and their supporters gathered in Montreal on Saturday to demand full regularization for all, and for political leaders to stop blaming asylum seekers for systemic problems.

“People have waited long enough and we really need a broad, comprehensive regularization program now without exceptions,” said Mostafa Henaway of the Immigrant Workers Centre.

Many on hand came to Canada as refugees. They fled difficult, sometimes deadly situations in their home countries to seek a better life.

Harjinder Singh said he arrived from India in 2019, after fleeing violence related to the Khalistan movement. He said he works at Dollarama, asks for no help from the government, but has not been able to get permanent residency.

“I regularly pay my rent and my taxes,” he said, expressing fears that he may one day be forced to return to India.

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Migrants are calling on the Trudeau government to fulfill a 2011 promise to bring in a full regularization program.

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Without official status, they’re excluded from many public services.

“We’re happy to employ them in our day cares, but we don’t want them accessing our daycares,” decried Henaway.

At a meeting on Friday premier François Legault asked Prime Minister Trudeau to give Quebec full control over immigration. The Prime Minister said no.

Legault said that 230,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Quebec in the past two years alone, putting massive strain on the education and health systems, and the housing market.

“It brings many problems,” he said.

Many at the demonstration want him to stop blaming migrants.

“I think it’s a false argument and it’s racist and stupid,” said demonstrator Karim Nohra. “He suddenly has a lot of money when it comes to subsidies for big corporations or tax breaks.”

Others at the protest said they have sympathy for Quebec’s claims that services are overwhelmed, but say helping asylum seekers when they arrive will be positive in the long run.

“Their children will become a doctor, engineer, everything, so maybe it will be balance,” said Gaurav Sharma.

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Similar demonstrations unfolded across the country, including in Toronto. Dozens of organizations have rallied together to create a “Migrant Spring.”

“I believe we should all unite, and we should all ask for better,” said Montreal student Juan Carlos.

Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller has said he plans to propose a way to allow undocumented immigrants to regularize their status this spring.

The demonstrators say new arrivals living with fewer rights than longtime Canadians is an injustice that needs to be fixed.

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