September 5, 2022
Thousands of migrant workers live in Canada in precarious situations. They have lost their legal immigration status and have fallen through the cracks of the immigration system. This situation is not an anomaly, but part of Canada’s labor market strategy that takes advantage of the economic desperation of migrants to fill the country’s labor shortages.
Without clear pathways to permanent residence, many migrant workers are at risk of becoming undocumented migrants as soon as their temporary resident permits expire. When that happens, they continue to work to survive and support Canada’s economy without access to benefits, services, and mechanisms that protect their rights as workers. They live in constant fear of being deported.
The case of migrant rights defender and worker leader Danilo de Leon has brought the spotlight on the situation of migrant workers once again. In 2009, Danilo came to Canada as a temporary foreign worker to Alberta to fill labor shortages and has contributed to Canada’s economy in many ways. Due to unfortunate circumstances, he was not able to renew his temporary resident status in Canada. Now he faces a deportation order which has been put on hold temporarily by the Federal Court considering the risks he would face if forcibly returned to the Philippines.
Danilo has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of vulnerable migrant workers in Canada. He is the chairperson of Migrante Canada, a national organization with thirteen member organizations from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Danilo has been the face of Migrante Canada at local, national, and global initiatives advocating for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants.
The Philippine Anti-Terror Law which was signed by then President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2020, also applies to Filipinos overseas who can be labeled as ‘terrorists’ by simply speaking out on the issues of Filipinos. Danilo has publicly spoken against the Labor Export Policy of the Philippine government which facilitates the export of Filipinos to ease massive unemployment while ignoring its obligation to protect overseas Filipino workers and failing to provide decent work in the Philippines.
Canada has a responsibility to protect migrant rights defenders or activists like Danilo de Leon from persecution by the Philippine government and state agents; his deportation to the Philippines is tantamount to his arrest and detention there at the least.
Canada needs workers like Danilo De Leon. He has persevered and worked constantly to support his two daughters and hopes that one day they can join him in Canada. He has worked and lived in Canada for more than a decade now, pays his income taxes, and he contributes to his community. This is his home!
All of us have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of undocumented migrant workers like Danilo. Let us remind Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser that he has a mandate from Prime Minister Trudeau to develop a program to regularize undocumented workers.
In the spirit of this mandate, we call on the federal government to:
- Stop all deportations and arrests of undocumented migrants.
- Hold meaningful consultations and ensure that a regularization program is for all undocumented migrants.
We call on Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to stop the deportation of Danilo de Leon and let him stay in Canada.
Let us stop the injustice faced by migrant workers in Canada once and for all!
Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers! Protect the Rights of All Workers! Regularization Now! Status for All!
Let Danilo De Leon Stay in Canada! *
* To help Danilo stay in Canada, visit bit.ly/LetDaniloStayinCanada for the campaign toolkit.