Niagara Falls shows support for asylum seekers with anti-racism rally

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People rally outside Niagara Falls city hall Sunday in a show of support for thousands of asylum seekers who have been placed in hotels in the municipality by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and also to call for equal rights and permanent resident status for all migrants and refugees in the country.

On Sunday, March 19, locals gathered around Niagara Falls’ city hall to support the thousands of asylum seekers who are currently living in hotels organized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The event has been organized to show support for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The event was only one of the six rallies which took place in Canada this weekend, with other events in Edmonton, Montreal, Sudbury, Toronto and Vancouver.

The event has been organized by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, an organization dedicated to uniting and building a community of migrant farmworkers, care workers, students and more to help win worker and immigration justice.

According to Kit Andres, an organizer for Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, the organization, along with other groups, felt compelled to take action in order to avoid past mistakes.

“It’s a cross-country day of action to show that the community support is there — that citizens are welcoming to refugees and migrants even when we can’t count on our own government to do the same,” said Andres. “We want to send a clear message: if you are looking for safety for you and your family, you are welcome here. You have a home here.”

As Migrant Workers Alliance for Change continues to fight for immigrants’ equal rights in the country, they are also calling for permanent resident status for all 1.7 million migrants and refugees in Canada. The organization argues that not only are migrant workers essential to communities, but their position in primarily low-wage jobs also causes a large portion of them to be hit the hardest by the affordability crisis.

The event, primarily organized to show support for asylum seekers, follows last month’s reports of limitations as the number of asylum seekers in Niagara Falls continues to spike.

In February, nearly 3,000 migrants had been transferred to the city since July, resulting in Niagara Falls being stretched for resources necessary to meet the needs of the sudden influx of individuals.

As of Feb. 19, 951 of the city’s hotel rooms were occupied by asylum seekers. This has resulted in Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati questioning whether the government has a larger plan set in place, especially when considering the fast-approaching tourism season.

Andres notes that the rally is a way for individuals to stand together in light of the situation at hand.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a regularization program to give permanent status to people without immigration status. This is nothing new. We’re not asking for any special treatment. We’re just asking Trudeau to keep his promises and ensure equal rights for all our migrant and refugee neighbours, regardless of how they come to the country,” said Andres.

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