Push to welcome refugees to Canada intensifies with month-long call to action

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"Why are we treated like second, third-class citizens?" asks Hamoudi Gharaieb, 36, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza who came to Canada in 2010 to be with his wife and since then has faced detention, failed deportation, and now a refusal for permanent resident status based on humanitarian grounds.

This is one video interview of seven featured in recently launched multimedia project Never Home by immigrant and migrant justice group No One is Illegal.

Published on Sept. 1, the project includes video interviews with refugees, migrant workers, and citizens, visual infographics and a 10,000-word report, 'Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration,' which assesses Canada's immigration policies in the lead up to the federal election.

Since the report's release, No One is Illegal has held a series of "Refugees Welcome" rallies across Canada in response to the tragic death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi and called for a month-long action on the global refugee crisis until mid-October coordinated on new site RefugeesWelcome.ca.

On Sept. 24 at 6:00 p.m. PST/9:00 p.m. EST RefugeesWelcome.ca and SHD.ca will be hosting an interactive online webinar on how to support the Refugees Welcome mobilizations across Canada with facilitators Syed Hussan and Tings Chak.

The actions to support refugees have been supported by findings in Never Home's report, which illustrates the impact and reality of the Conservative government's immigration policies.

The report finds that the nine years of changing Conservative immigration and refugee policies have "perfected a system of managed migration to ensure the steady supply of cheap labour within neoliberalism, while entrenching racialized citizenship."

Key findings from the report include a declining rate of acceptance of family-class immigrants and refugees from 2006 to 2011 and the detention of 87,317 migrants without charge between 2006 and 2014.

"So much focuses at one law at a time, but when you put all these policies together it's very overwhelming. Across the board -- temporary foreign workers, refugees, family sponsorship -- no matter what stream you're in, everyone's in a temporary state," said Omar Chu, a co-author of the report.

The report also highlights that, in 2008, the number of temporary residents entering Canada exceeded the number of permanent residents for the first time.

According to Chu, the report's many findings on the state of citizenship, temporary foreign workers, refugees, detention and funding have a commonality in showing that temporariness is increasingly becoming a reality of Canadian citizenship.

In a news report by The Vancouver Sun, former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the findings of this report "complete rubbish," and accused No One Is Illegal of being a "Trotskyite, anarchist organization" opposed to any and all immigration laws.

Kenney also took to Twitter to voice his opinion of both the group and report, calling the former "a fringe anarchist group."

In an email response to rabble.ca, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said that "Canadian citizenship is not a temporary status."

According to CIC, in 2014, 262,574 people obtained Canadian citizenship at 2,461 ceremonies held from coast to coast.

"Canada has one of the highest rates of naturalization in the world: over 85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens," said CIC, adding that many qualified permanent residents do not immediately apply for citizenship upon qualifying.

However, the statistics recorded by CIC on refugees and family-class immigrants do match with the report's note that they have declined noticeably over the years.

The report suggests that changed policies such as new regulations the Express Entry System, the "four in and four out" rule and the 2012 Refugee Exclusion Act have made Canadian citizenship more and more temporary in nature.

According to the Never Home report, "the number of refugee claims in Canada decreased by 50 per cent and the number of accepted refugees dropped by 30 per cent between 2006 and 2012."

"We hope that the report shatters the myth of Canada's position of being a family country and mobilize the people," said Chu.

For more information on a Refugees Welcome rally near you, click here.

Register for How to take direct action for #RefugeesWelcome: With Tings Chak + Syed Hussan here.

Fatima Syed is a Master of Journalism student at Ryerson University. She has a Bachelor's degree in international relations and English literature from U of T. You can follow her at @fatimasyed401

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