December 26, 2010
THE THREE FATHERS’ FIGHT TO STAY CONTINUES
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.
LET THE THREE FATHERS STAY!
JUSTICE TO ALL MIGRANT WORKERS!
Secretary General, Migrante Canada