“Three Amigos” amongst latest round of temporary foreign workers criminalized by neoliberal immigration policies
March 29, 2011
Toronto ON—SIKLAB-Canada, a national formation of progressive Filipino Canadian workers organizations, demands Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to cease the Three Amigos’ deportation order and to grant their right to remain in Canada. Dubbed as the “Three Amigos,” Arnisito Gaviola, Antonio Laroya and Ermie Zotomayor fill the top ledger of CIC’s list of temporary foreign workers who are slotted for deportation. Now having fulfilled their terms of work after arriving in 2007 to work at a gas station and restaurant in High Prairie, Alberta, their current order for deportation quickens their expiry as “disposable workers” who have already completed their terms under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). SIKLAB-Canada fervently demands to stop the deportation of temporary foreign workers as a call to eradicate the cycle of importing and deporting cheap migrant and immigrant labour, as instrumentalized by Canada to perpetuate the neoliberal agenda of globalization.
After dispensing hours of cheap labour at the gas station and restaurant, the Three Amigos were subsequently laid-off after a year and a half due to recession downsizing. They found similar jobs in Thompson, Alberta and were promised renewed work permits by their new employer, but were arrested in June 23, 2010 for not being able to provide the necessary work permits. They currently await their court hearing, which is scheduled for March 2011.
While the economic expediency provided by the cheap labour of migrant workers enables Canada to drive down wages and remain competitive during periods of economic crisis, it is precisely these workers who are often the first and hardest hit by downsizing practices. It has been a convenient yet racist practice to either grant or deny residency to migrant workers in order to dictate or prevent their terms of settlement and integration into Canadian society. Like hundreds of thousands recruited through the TFWP, the three men stand on shaky and perilous ground with their status being tied to the employer-specific work permits with no chance of receiving permanent residency in Canada.
“The case of the Three Amigos is yet another addition to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s stack of violations against the same workers they utilize to enable Canada to stay globally competitive,” states Roderick Carreon, Chairperson of SIKLAB-Canada. “We will not stand for the anti-immigrant tactic of criminalizing the workers who are holding up the bare bones of the economy, of those who bear the burden of economic accumulation at the expense of their own development,” adds Carreon.
Historically, the shift in the 1970’s from immigration for permanent settlement to migration for temporary employment mirror’s Canada’s never-ending thirst for cheap labour under neoliberal globalization. As it stands, the TFWP is used to fill so-called labour market shortages in Canada, with its low-skilled category carrying the bulk of job classifications. Streams under the low-skilled category include the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, the Live-in Caregiver Program, and an expanding number of service-sector occupations, all deemed as the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs that no other Canadians are willing to take. With the amendments in immigration policies and the expansion of the TFWP evidently making immigration processes more employer-friendly, the so-called reliance of employers on temporary foreign workers divert away from the fact that job opportunities under the low-skill category are jobs that are unappealing to workers who enjoy freedom in the Canadian labour market.
“We stand with the Three Amigos in our refusal to be choked in by immigration policies that prevent the fulfillment of our lives as Filipino Canadian workers,” says Kelly Botengan, spokesperson of SIKLAB-Ontario and former worker under the Live-in Caregiver Program. “We are not merely economic units that are to be disposed of when no longer needed. Our active contribution and participation in Canada is key to the development of Canadian society as a whole,” asserts Botengan.
SIKLAB-Canada will continue to expose and oppose all racist and anti-worker neoliberal immigration and labour policies that criminalize workers to prevent their successful settlement and integration in Canada. The struggle for a truly inclusive and multicultural Canadian society is at stake as immigration policies continue to expand a racially color-coded labour market geared towards temporary workers instead of programs for permanent immigration and settlement.
Expose and oppose Canada’s neoliberal agenda of globalization!
Stop the deportation of temporary foreign workers!
Onward with the demand for genuine settlement and integration!
Organizations under SIKLAB-Canada:
SIKLAB British Columbia (Sulong Itaguyod ang Karapatan ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Labas ng Bansa/Advance and Uphold the Struggle of Filipino Canadian Workers)