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Demonstrators call for more action toward undocumented worker status regularization in Canada

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Dozens gathered in front of the Alberta Legislature on Sunday at a demonstration calling for equal rights and permanent resident status for migrants and refugees in Canada.

Hosted on anti-racism day, the rally was part of a nationwide demonstration calling on Canada's immigration minister to create more programs to regularize the status of undocumented workers.

Marco Luciano, Migrante Alberta director, said that goal was set by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in December 2021 within his mandate letter to Minister Sean Fraser, who oversees the immigration, refugees and citizenship portfolio.

"These undocumented migrants are really in a very precarious situation," Luciano said. "They are our neighbours, they are our friends."

"It's hard for them to live just looking over their shoulders all the time," he added. "They do not have health care, they cannot access housing and they continue to shop in Alberta.

"They continue to help the economy in Alberta, but they do not have access to those services."

Danilo De Leon arrived from the Philippines in 2009 as a temporary foreign worker. After working for years, he lost his status and has not seen his daughters in almost 10 years.

"The reason I came here is to work and give them a better future," De Leon told reporters, adding he hoped one day to bring them here.

"There's no opportunities back home," he added. "It's not so easy."

Luciano estimated there were between 25,000 and 50,000 undocumented workers in Alberta.

"Making ends meet is hard," he said. "We want to see their regularization happen yesterday… They need support for their hard work."

Bahoz Dara Aziz, Fraser's press secretary, told CTV News Edmonton in a statement that the minister continues to progress ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers contributing to the economy.

"We have unveiled various programs, tested new approaches and successfully provided permanent residency to thousands of individuals and their families," Dara Aziz said.

She pointed to an announcement made Friday that expanded post-graduate work permit eligibility or the doubling of spaces for the out-of-status construction workers program.

"Changes like these ensure skilled workers can stay in Canada and continue to meaningfully work," Dara Aziz explained, adding that Fraser continues to meet with undocumented migrants for consultation.

"As we advance our work on further programs, we will continue listening to experts as well as undocumented workers themselves."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti 

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