from the Migrant Rights Network (Canada):

In recent months, we have seen a massive increase in migrants being scapegoated for high costs of living. This is an effective distraction by the super-rich so that we don’t hold them accountable for their runaway greed.  We are seeing racism increase, not just in the mainstream media, but also in federal immigration policies. Consider the stark disparity in treatment between refugees from Palestine and Sudan compared to those from Ukraine.  

At the onset of the war in Ukraine, Canada created the Canada-Ukraine Authorized for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Through this program, Ukrainian refugees have received visa exemptions, comprehensive health coverage, financial assistance, and settlement services. On the other hand Palestinian and Sudanese refugees seeking asylum have none of the same access despite facing violence, displacement and death.  The differences are stark: 

1. Visa Quotas and Eligibility Criteria: The CUAET program accepted over one million visa applications and has already facilitated the arrival of over 210,000 Ukrainian migrants, while visa quotas for Palestinians and Sudanese arrivals have been severely limited, with only 1000 and 3250 applications accepted, respectively. While any Ukranina is allowed to come into the program, eligibility criteria for Palestinians and Sudanese arrivals are much narrower, restricting access to those with immediate family ties to Canada. 

2. Financial Assistance and Settlement Services: Ukrainian immigrants were provided with a one-time, non-taxable benefit payment of $3000 per adult and $1500 per child, in addition to free settlement services and community support. In contrast, Palestinians and Sudanese arrivals are expected to bear all financial burdens themselves, with no government assistance provided.
3. Racist Screening Processes: Palestinians from Gaza are subjected to invasive and discriminatory screening requirements, including providing details about scars and marks on their bodies, information from every passport ever held, access to social media accounts, and list of all employment – these are special new requirements only for Palestinians and impossible to meet in the face of the heavy bombardment and destruction of Gaza.

4. Health Coverage: Ukrainian immigrants received comprehensive provincial/territorial health coverage upon arrival, while Palestinians are only eligible for limited health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for a period of 90 days, and many Sudanese nationals with temporary visas receive no health coverage at all. The different access for refugees from different countries is simply racist. We need to act together and demand change. Over the last six months, the federal government has capped permanent immigration, which means that more people will continue to live and work under exploitative temporary permits without being able to access permanent residency. International students and their families are being shut out and more restrictions are set to come, including potentially on refugees from Mexico. These caps and exclusions make it even easier for bad bosses to exploit migrants, and migrants will continue to be denied rights and services. We must unite and take action. 

This is why we are launching Migrant Spring – the next step in the fight for permanent resident status for migrants and justice and equality for all of us – on March 16-17, 2024 with actions across the country. Take action with us to reject xenophobia and racism, and demand status for all. RSVP today for an action near you or organize your own:

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