Undocumented women claim their place in the federal regularization program

Undocumented women claim their place in the federal regularization program

Women's Committee of the Center for Immigrant Workers (CTTI) located in the neighborhood from Côte-des-Neiges to Montreal. In the photo (from left to right): Loreto Morales, Samira Jasmin, Susana Ponte-Rivera, Benita Martinez, Bénédicte Carole Ze, Marie Boti, Nina Gonzalez and Rita Acosta.

Non-status workers and agency representatives united on March 7 to highlight the consequences of the lack of immigration status for women and to demand that the federal program of regularization of undocumented workers, currently in the study, be inclusive.

“For March 8, International Women's Day, it seems crucial to us to do justice to immigrant women who live in the double fear of being both deported and abused said the Women's Committee of the Center for Immigrant Workers (CTTI) in Montreal, where the rally was held.

“We salute our sisters who have died fighting for our rights, victims of abusive employers or violent partners. We also salute those who continue to suffer and die because we live in a system of oppression that discriminates against women without status and with precarious status,” added Bénédicte Carole Ze.

“We are here to say that enough is enough!” exclaimed the health worker, whose status was regularized thanks to the Quebec government's program for “guardian angels”, set up during the pandemic.

Undocumented women claim their place in the federal regularization program

Press conference for the regularization of women without status at the CTTI in Montreal on March 7. Photo: Karla Meza, Metro

Vulnerability of women with precarious status

The Women's Committee of the CTTI regrets that thousands of women across Canada lose their temporary status every year because of the violence they experience. The latter may have their sponsorship withdrawn by their violent spouse, be illegally fired by their employer or even be forced to leave their job to flee abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace.

“He must have an awareness of the situation of women with precarious status and without status in our society. We demand that justice and reparation be done for all that has been done and continues to be done to these women,” added Ms. Ze.

“We are shocked and saddened by the treatment these women must endure at the hands of unscrupulous employers and complacent governments. This must stop,” said Marie Boti, founding member of the Women of Diverse Origins Collective.

If they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay here, have the same rights and access services like any other [citizen]. They are not just arms for work, they are human beings.

Marie Boti, vice-president of the International Alliance of Women.

Demands of the CTTI Women's Committee

As part of its regularization campaign, the CTTI Women's Committee demands the right to a decent salary and working conditions for women without status, their right to file a complaint for psychological or sexual harassment in the workplace, to work in security without fear of reprisals because of their status, as well as their access to compensation in the event of an accident at work or occupational disease.

“Our immigration system systematically leads [immigrants] to lose their status, either by denying their asylum application or because their work permits have expired,” said Nina Gonzalez, a member of the committee and the Association of Temporary Placement Agency Workers (ATTAP).

Loss of immigration status is an administrative issue, which is why a program of inclusive regularization is necessary and urgent.

Nina Gonzalez, member of the International Migrant Alliance (IMA).

Undocumented women claim their place in the federal-regularization program

Center for Immigrant Workers (CTTI) in Montreal. Photo: Karla Meza, Metro

Advocacy Support

“We must name the barriers encountered by women without status and with precarious status, in particular the lack of access to information in a language they can understand, social isolation and exploitation”, expressed Olga Houde. , psychologist and jurist, coordinator of the Legal Clinics of the Community Mission of Montreal (MCM).

“We support the advocacy and the demands made today to enable all women who are in a situation of extreme vulnerability, distress and distraught to obtain permanent status,” she continued.

While Ms. Houde welcomes the federal program that allows women who are victims of domestic violence or abuse to obtain temporary status, she nevertheless emphasizes the urgency of implementing a lasting solution to ensure their security.

Undocumented women claim their place in the federal regularization program

Center for Immigrant Workers (CTTI) in Montreal. Photo: Karla Meza, Metro

Le Canada accomplice

Marie Boti insisted that [society] cannot ignore the reasons that lead people, especially women, to leave their country of origin, denouncing in the same way the role that Canada plays in their exile .   

“Canada is complicit in forced migration through its involvement in wars, the environmental degradation caused by its multinational mining companies and its unequal international trade” , she argued.

“To a utilitarian logic, we propose a logic of human rights and we recall our duty of solidarity. We therefore call on the federal government to create a permanent, inclusive and administratively simple regularization program as soon as possible, as well as the Quebec government to participate in it,” said Susana Ponte-Rivera, head of the mobilization and community worker at the Écho des femmes de la Petite Patrie.

“The contribution of non-status women to our community is undeniable and it must be recognized. Here, they are at home,” she said.

This text was produced as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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