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Demonstration Against Canada’s Immigration System

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Toronto Sunday calling for an end to racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration system.

The demonstration organized by The Migrant Rights Network gathered near Toronto’s City Hall before taking their message to the streets, briefly blocking some downtown intersections.

The group called on the federal government to grant citizenship to an estimated 1.6 million migrant and undocumented workers in Canada.

Syed Hussan, executive director of the of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said migrant and undocumented workers are afraid to assert their rights and speak out about the exploitation they may face on the job.

“You can be made homeless because you live in employer-provided housing, you can be kicked out of the country, you’re not allowed to get another job,” Hussan said.

“To have a fair society, everyone must have equal rights. The only way to have equal rights, is if every resident in the country has the same citizenship rights and immigration status.”

Tina Kusbiantoro came to Canada from Indonesia more than three years ago and says not being able to secure permanent residency has been challenging.

“We have no equal rights and then we’re separated from our families a long time … we cannot access the health care and we don’t vote,” Kusbiantoro said.

A woman who identified herself only as Jane tells reporters  she feels ignored and disappointed in the immigration system. Jane has been working as a personal support worker since arriving from Uganda.

“We have been working hard through the pandemic to ensure that we give services to vulnerable people who cannot help themselves,” Jane said: “Being denied…it’s a kind of racism. I feel so bad, I feel so betrayed.”

Migrant rights activists were joined by a group from Community Solidarity Toronto, who rallied Sunday to take a stand against racism and what they see as the growth of Canada’s far right.

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