Canada’s unions are highlighting International Migrant Day by renewing their call for communities to join the sanctuary movement.
“We’ve been working with communities from across the country in support of the sanctuary movement,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “We believe that Canada should be a safe place for everyone; sanctuary municipalities help ensure migrants find welcoming spaces wherever they arrive,” he added.
The United Nations’ theme for this year’s International Migrant Day is “Safe Migration in a World on the Move.”
At least 65.3 million people have been forced from their homes. There are an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 non-status migrants in Canada.
Non-status migrants may include, but are not limited to, people who have had their status revoked, who were coerced by traffickers, or who had their refugee claim denied. Many have experienced conflict, violence, persecution, and other human rights violations.
Migrants experience increased insecurity and violence in their adoptive communities as a result of the rise of racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment. Racialized women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2SI, and persons with a disability are especially vulnerable.
“Non-status migrants’ precarious immigration status makes them vulnerable. These are people who live and work in constant fear,” said Yussuff. “We can and we must respond to the needs of these people. We have to place ourselves in their shoes.”
A sanctuary city designation provides residents who don’t have full status documents safe access to municipal services. The designation must be accompanied by comprehensive training and implementation of best practices. The designation also requires broad support from front line community service providers including police, firefighters, school staff and administrators.
“Canadian municipalities can take an active stand against racism and xenophobia through a sanctuary designation. We can and we must respond,” said Yussuff.