By Maria Luisa Grimaldi
CANADA: The Hispanic Development Council, an umbrella organization of Torontoâ€™s community organizations, has joined the campaign â€œStatus Nowâ€ â€” a defense for people without (legal) immigration status.
Through this campaign, the Council joins the collective effort of the different ethnic communities of immigrants, in support of the members of our Hispanic community to work together in the creation of programs that respond to the needs of the community.
This campaign formed in June 2007 in support of the motion filed in the name of the Standing Committee on Immigration to put in place an immediate moratorium on deportations of persons and families who have no immigration status.
In this context, different community groups, unions, service agencies, community organizations, as well as, immigrants, refugees and supporters saw the opportunity to create a significant change in the lives of thousands of people who do not have migration status.
They joined together to form a group represented by a mixture of community leaders, who, in turn, provides the foundation for the campaign in defense of people without migratory status.
Each member of this group has the opportunity to present their own perspective on the root causes of the crisis of those who have no immigration status in Canada.
In this way, we attempt to analyze the cracks in the (immigration) system happening at the moment. At the same time, we unite our efforts to achieve long-lasting changes.
As members of Canadian society, it is our duty to value the contributions and participation of all immigrant communities, with or without (immigration) status and this we will put into practice.
The ultimate goal of the campaign is to create a program of regularization in the immigration system for people who do not have legal status, and especially securing a humanitarian resolution to the crisis being suffered by many families.
This campaign has three objectives or concrete demands:
1. Moratorium on the deportations in Canada.
2. Regularization of the processes for people without migration status in Canada.
3. Reforming the immigration and refugee system in Canada.
This is a long-term program and it could take years to reach the ultimate goal, but in the short-term this campaign aims to have a pilot project that would have the following points:
â€¢ The construction of a plan to work with the city, the province and with those organizations that comprise the community, unions, immigrants, refugees and persons without migration status. Also, the plan would work with community agencies and politicians who are working on impeding the regularization of the immigration process and defending people without migratory status.
â€¢ The launch of a national campaign that includes web sites on the Internet, PowerPoint presentations on local forums, as part of an educational campaign that at the same time creates a heightened awareness in the community.
â€¢ The creation of a â€œNational Day of People Without Migratory Statusâ€ based on our three Demands.
â€¢ Participate with cities and provinces in the creation of joint efforts, promoting laws that favor people without migratory status.
â€¢ Create services for people without migratory status including training for young people.
The following are the next steps in this campaign:
The National Conference of People Without Migratory Status: To be held in October 2008, the first-year anniversary of when the campaign began.
Summer Program for Youth Leaders: This will create a program designed for the youth, during the summer, where they can gain experience in different areas, of which will include immigrants, refugees and undocumented persons.
National Day of the Status Now Campaign: On May 3, there will be an opportunity to coordinate the third year of the national campaigns in defense of people without immigration status.
In order to launch this campaign in the Hispanic community, the Hispanic Development Council held an informational workshop on November 29, as the first step in its mission to work for the welfare of our Latino-Hispanic community.
For more than 30 years, the Council has received recognition for its work in the Canadian community. In this campaign, the Council has as its goal to work with other Hispanic organizations, like the Canadian Hispanic Congress, among others, to look for common ground in solving the problems that affect and harm the immigrant.
This campaign works to benefit the immigrants who come to make Canada their home, contributing to the economic growth of this country and joining the workforce.
The immigrant needs Canada as much as Canada needs the immigrant, therefore we need to make laws that provide justice for all.
Learn More About Maria Luisa Grimaldi
Six years ago, Maria Luisa Grimaldi, her husband and sons, left behind a prosperous business and successful life in Peru to emigrate to the chilly climate of Canada.
Confessing that most of the people she knows, who have immigrated, choose to go to the United States, Maria Luisa and her family saw Canada as the better option for them.
And Canada has not disappointed this enterprising woman and her family. Today, Maria Luisa is general manager of public relations and marketing at the Canadian Spanish-language magazine OpiniÃ³n.
Maria Luisa has a deep familiarity with the realities of Canadaâ€™s Latino community thanks to her work with area non-profit agencies. Holding numerous executive positions on non-profit boards, including being on the Advisory Committee for the Peruvian Consulate in Toronto, Maria Luisa has also worked extensively with other organizations that service Hispanic immigrants. Itâ€™s her experience with these organizations that she credits with her knowledge of what is happening with Hispanic communities in Canada.
â€œOne of my ideals and fundamental aspirations is that Canadaâ€™s Hispanic community unites together for the advancement of all Latinos who have adopted Canada as their new home.
â€œFrom this perspective, our role should be well defined through an agreement, proactive and active, where we will have a voice and vote in the political life of the city and its social scene.
â€œIn this way, with us all united we can make one Country in which we are not just a labor force but also a defined community with active participation in its society and a civic obligation.â€
Maria Luisa is convinced that life is like a wheel that puts us in different positions on the road, and she with many others, are ready to push it to achieve the advancement of all.