Monday, September 21, 2009

G20 Summit: Putting Profits and Monopolists Above the People: IMA

Press Statement
of the International Migrants Alliance on the G20** Meeting
September 20, 2009

If the G20 will have their way, there is no hope that the people can cope with the current depression gripping the world. Worse, there can never be a future where social justice prospers and where the dignity of all workers – including (especially) migrant workers – is upheld. Saving the neoliberal globalization still is the major agenda of member countries of the powerful G20. The group is a champion of the very same policy that has put the world in the worst financial crunch in recent history.

People around the world are reeling from the impacts of the financial crisis that stemmed from the crisis of overproduction inherent in the monopoly-ruled global economy. Though the G-20 projects its meeting in the United States as one that will find ways to get the world out of the economic rut it is now in, it is without doubt that the priority of the G-20 will be on how to save the big monopolists and banks that have been the ones cornering profit and production at the expense of human lives. Meanwhile, the people of the world are left with a worsening social, economic and political condition.

Millions of people have lost their jobs or have been made insecure and temporary in their employment. Agriculture, a pillar for our livelihood and right to food, has also suffered with the worst impact to landless peasants already living under severe feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. The number of people going hungry has reached over one billion. Even so-called middle class is rapidly finding it hard to cope with the rising prices of goods. Access to education, health and public services has become even narrower than before with compelled privatization of these services. States continually slash budgets for services while giving unprecedented leeway and perk to businesses especially the monopoly-capitalists.

The people’s discontent is on the rise. To curb any form of dissent, policies have been enacted that curtail the civil and political rights of the people such as the right to protest and assemble, the right to unionize and even the right to free expression. Migrant workers around the world are some of the first to feel the brunt of the global crisis. Even before the crisis, migrants have already been made vulnerable to exploitation by the various laws set by host countries to limit their rights. Now with the crisis, hundreds of thousands are laid off from their jobs and summarily deported back to their home countries. After years of benefiting from migrant labor, businesses and labor-importing states now have no hesitation in letting go of migrant laborers.

Undocumented migrants are also hard hit by the economic slump. Border control of host countries are made even tighter and thousands of undocumented are regularly rounded up and are arrested, detained and eventually deported. They are treated as no more than criminals despite the fact their economies have benefited much from their cheap labor. The EU Return Directive is exemplary of the draconian methods used by states to violate the basic social and democratic rights of migrants.

The million-strong protest action of immigrants and undocumented workers in US in 2006 showcased the dire condition of undocumented migrants that is expected to get even worse in the near future. Xenophobia and racism is also fanned to shift public opinion in favor of mass termination of migrant workers and the crafting of labor policies that are detrimental to the rights of migrants. As what happens every time economic crisis sets in, migrant workers are made scapegoats for the rising unemployment among local workers that causes a divide among the working class – migrants and locals – in many countries.

In labour-exporting countries, migration has become the main industry that sustains their economies. Migrant remittances and income from government charges have been the steady sources of dollars and funds for these countries. On top of the economic gains, labor export has also helped in stopping the social volcano that is always on the brink of exploding in crisis-ridden countries that export workers.

Currently, even migration is being integrated in the framework of neoliberal globalization. Through the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that is in the grip of powerful countries – considering that it is a product of the OECD – migrant workers are transformed into commodities and migration is molded to produce the biggest profits for host countries, sending countries and monopoly-capitalist banks.

Remittance is the main concern of the GFMD. The billions of dollars that migrant workers remit is an irresistible well of funds sorely needed by monopolists in their relentless drive for capital accumulation. Though the GFMD coats itself with motherhood statements on the rights of migrants, its major concern is still unmasked by its very own aim of “making migration work for development” – it is using remittances and other income from migration for the kind of development that is actually not for the grassroots.

IMA stands with the migrants and all the toiling people of the world in further exposing and opposing neoliberal globalization and those that push for it like the G20. We call for jobs in our homeland, we call for equality and livelihoods for social justice for the oppressed and exploited. Such will not be had with the G20. Such can only be achieved through struggle and people’s international solidarity.

Jobs in our Homeland!
Livelihoods for Social and Democratic Justice!

Reference: Teresa Gutierrez, IMA Deputy Secretary General, May 1st Coalition Co-Coordinator

** What is the G 20? -- On September 24-25, 2009 the city of Pittsburgh will host the next summit of the G20, a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s largest economies who meet twice yearly to discuss and coordinate the international financial system. Around 1,500 delegates, including heads of state, will be attending along with more than 2,000 members of the media, and thousands of police and security agents tasked with squelching dissent.

This summit, and the predecessor meetings in April 2009 in London, occurs on the heels of the worldwide financial meltdown that has been severely impacting hundreds of millions around the world. Since its inception, the G20 has been a tool used to promote a world vision based on the ability of capital to move as it pleases, at the expense of labour, human rights and the environment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pushing for fundamental changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program - Migrante-Ontario

Press Release
September 14, 2009

Reaction to Government of Canada’s response to proposed recommendations by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

Migrante-Ontario is extremely disappointed at the Conservative Government of Canada’s response to the recommendations presented by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in its May 2009 report Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers. (*Photos care of Migrante Ontario)

In its response released August 19th, the Conservative Government issued a sweeping blow against the hope of many foreign temporary workers including live-in caregivers. The Government through Minister Jason Kenney of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, outlined its strong opposition to proposed changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program.

The government has opposed the following vital recommendations of the Standing Committee: 1) “provide for a possible one-year extension of the three-year period during which a live-in caregiver must complete 24 months of employment in order to be eligible to apply for permanent resident status;” 2) the implementation of the “Juana Tejada Law;” and the 3) removal of the ‘live-in’ requirement.

This almost blanket opposition to vital recommendations reflects the government’s lack of understanding of what caregivers have been going through all these years. It was a slap on the face of all caregivers who suffered and are suffering from cruel conditions that LCP brings. By opposing the proposed fundamental changes, the government has done a great disservice to the most vulnerable workers in Canadian society.

The Conservative Government also opposed the possibility of granting all foreign temporary workers a “pathway to permanent residency” arguing that “labour needs are not all permanent” and “some other needs fluctuate with the economy and are sometimes unpredictable.”

We think however that the government fails to see the importance of labour in the context of human necessity. We need to understand that many of these foreign workers have left their country in search of a better life in Canada, hoping that they would stay long enough to provide for their families. If the government does not provide them with the opportunity of becoming permanent residents, many of them may just soon go back again to ground zero in terms of providing their families even with very basic needs. This minority government should stop treating its foreign temporary workers like disposable goods.

Many caregivers and advocates including us were thrilled when the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration released its recommendations last May followed by another report in June entitled Migrant Workers and Ghost Consultants. The timing then was perfect as it happened after the Ruby Dhalla scandal. But we know that a lot of politics comes into play in the process of pushing for policy reforms in the legislative setting. We also understand that the reports need the approval of the majority in the House of Commons.

But the hopes that caregivers and advocates have clung to for a long time may just have been dashed once more. With the negative response from the Harper government, the fate of the two landmark reports has become unclear. The impending threat of election makes it more difficult for caregivers and advocates to expect the passage of the reports.

Should there be an election soon, we can expect the various political leaders to include the issue of fundamental changes to the LCP in their platforms. They will take this opportunity to commit to certain reforms in favour of caregivers and other foreign temporary workers.

For us – the community – this is a time to reassert our basic demands such as to allow caregivers to come as landed immigrants without conditions; implement the “Juana Tejada Law” or the removal of the second medical exam when caregivers apply for permanent residence; make the work permit job-specific instead of employer specific; and remove the mandatory live-in requirement. This is a time for us to insist on solid commitments from the candidates, and to make a case against political leaders who deal with us through false and broken promises. ##

Maru Maesa

Tel: +1 416-831-3372
Migrante Ontario blog

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All migrants, refugees, advocates and friends invited to 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees, Athens, Greece, Nov. 1-4, 2009

The 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR2) in Athens, Greece is quickly approaching. The first IAMR was successfully held in Manila, Philippines in November last year.

The IAMR is the migrant and refugee challenge to the inter-government-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which is holding its third session in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 4-5, 2009, to continue discussions surrounding migration and development.

Tess Tesalona from the International Migrants Alliance - Canada (IMA-Canada) will be heading the delegation to IAMR2. She invites all interested migrants, refugees, advocates and friends who would like to attend this migrant-led conference to contact her and complete the accompanying documents as soon as possible.

The cost of the conference and accommodation is a very reasonable Euros 150.

For questions or comments please contact Tess Tesalona or Malcolm Guy at:
or by phone at +1 514 342-2111 (leave a message for Tess or Malcolm if necessary, please mention the IAMR)


Please find below the links for IAMR2 documents in PDF format:

The participation form (with interactive form fields). All participants should immediately complete this form and send by e-mail: or Fax: +1 514 842-9858 :

Invitation to the 2nd International Assembly
of Migrants and Refugees in Athens, Greece
November 1-4, 2009 :

And the detailed list of workshops (as of September 15, 2009) :

Visas for Greece: Canadians must have a valid passport (must be valid at least three months beyond period of intended stay). No visa is required for a stay of up to three months, provided coming for touristic purposes.