Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Threat of deportation: Canada’s Christmas gift to three Filipino workers

December 26, 2010


Winnipeg, Manitoba --While many families are busy preparing for Christmas, three migrant workers known as Three Amigos (or the Three Fathers) are busy preparing their documents for their immigration hearing and steeling themselves for the worse possible scenario, which could be  deportation orders. In the past weeks, the Canadian public has heard and read about the plight of Antonio Laroya, Arnisito Gaviola and Ermie Zotomayor.

The three migrant workers from the Philippines who came to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program were arrested for violation of work permit restrictions. The news of the decision to remove them from Canada saddens the three fathers, as well as the community and migrant advocates who have indefatigably worked to ask the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney that they be allowed to stay in Canada.

Migrante Canada, a Canada-wide alliance of 16 migrant organizations from British Columbia to the Atlantic Region, expresses its support and sympathy to Antonio, Arnisito and Ermie and their respective families. We know that they want to stay here and be allowed to work so they can provide for their families back home. Their struggle to stay is similar to the struggle of numerous migrant workers who have no pathway to become permanent residents in

Under the present immigration system, there is no available recourse for these three men but to appeal to Immigration Minister Kenney and hope they be allowed to stay under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Their lawyer, Nobel Peace Price nominee David Matas, has told them to apply for "restoration of status" and "temporary residence" permits that would allow them to work in Canada.

Migrante Canada hopes that this option is seriously considered and given to the three migrant workers.

Migrante Canada extends its sincere gratitude to all the supporters and allies who worked tirelessly in advocating for the Three Fathers to stay in Canada. Our regional chapter, Migrante Manitoba, was able to reach thousands of listeners and media readers all across Canada in knowing and understanding the plight of the Three Fathers. The Three Fathers find support and comfort from the community that has rallied behind

Unfortunately, this support  has been lacking from the Philippine Embassy. There are many more like the Three Fathers who are in the same situation and we hope that the community efforts will develop into a more cohesive network that will work for the much-needed changes (e.g. not having the work permits employer-specific permits) in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Migrante Canada has not heard from the Philippine Embassy and consular officials on what assistance they can provide to our kababayan. We have witnessed time and again that for any assistance to be provided, the question most often asked by our officials is: “have these workers paid their OWWA fees?” instead of “how can we help?” Is it not enough that our kababayan are Filipino citizens and that the Philippine government, through the Embassy, is mandated to help

The Philippines is one of the top three sending countries for migrants to Canada; however, we see very little support, or none at all, for the Filipino migrant workers, especially those who are in need. The case of the Three Amigos is proof of this.

The struggle for the right to stay in Canada for the Three Fathers is far from over. We need to connect the struggle of the Three Fathers to the struggle to reform the TFWP and advocate for a pathway for permanent residency for all migrant workers – have this as an as an option offered to all migrant workers in the TFWP. We also need to connect the situation of migrant workers in Canada to the problems in the Philippines that have pushed thousands of migrant workers to find jobs for their families.

Migrante Canada will continue to advocate and appeal on behalf of the Three Fathers and all migrant workers.

Let us not allow more Ermies, Antonios and Arnisitos to be subjected to this kind of ordeal.



Christopher Sorio,
Secretary General, Migrante Canada

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating International Migrants' Day 2010 across Canada


December 18th is International Migrants Day!
And Migrante’s National Day of Action for the Three Fathers in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Please join us in voicing our concerns with and for migrant workers on International Migrants Day.

On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly, recognizing the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.  On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly adoptedthe International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Canada has not signed this International Convention.

Date:   December 18th, 2010, Saturday
Time: 12 o'clock noon
Location:  corner of Homer and Georgia Streets (outside of the Vancouver Public Library)


'Three Amigos' to go on protest fast on International Migrants Day

Children of the three migrant workers to give testimonials on their situation during prayer vigil

On December 18, 2010, just one week before Christmas, Antonio Laroya, Arnisito Gaviola and Ermie Zotomayor will go on a protest fast to highlight how their arrest and their lack of employment has affected their children. Since their arrest on June 24th the three fathers have not been allowed to work and thus have been unable to support their families.

A prayer vigil will be held at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba at 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, December 18th-- which coincides with International Migrants Day.

During the forum, recorded testimonials from the family of the three fathers will be heard.
Migrante Canada has also planned events in Vancouver, Toronto, Barrie, Ottawa and Montreal in support of the "3 Amigos" and International Migrants Day.

For more information or for interview requests please contact:
Diwa Marcelino: 204-218-7100;


Celebrating International Migrants' Day 2010

Come and join us as we reflect on our collective struggles, shape our destiny and…
...CELEBRATE our victories as migrant workers and the International Migrant Workers Movement in protecting and advancing our rights
...AFFIRM the principle of self-empowerment of migrant workers, by migrant workers, for migrant workers
...STRENGTHEN the solidarity among all workers: unionized workers, immigrant/migrant workers, workers without jobs


Dance, Theatre, Skits, Music, Songs, Painting, Photo Exhibits!!


* our collective experience as racialized workers/migrant workers
* causes of global migration with Canada’s immigration policy
* our unity as migrant workers from various sectors/communities
* solidarity between the migrant workers movement and labour unions

For more information see :