Toronto Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Commentary- The Undocumented 99%

by Gurdit Singh

Its a well-know fact that 1 in 26 Canadian residents or approximately 1,290,000 people do not have full citizenship status.

These are people that pay taxes, that live and work here, that create art, that have friends...but cannot vote, shut out of the most basic of democratic rights. 

Many of these people are people of colour. They are poorer than the average Canadian citizen, and get paid less for doing the same job as a citizen. Banks charge them higher interest rates on loans. They get harassed more by the police, and are denied many rights.

Look around you. 1 in 26 of the people here might be a non-citizen. This movement, the Occupy movement, is not just about citizens, it is about everyone that lives here.

Of the almost 1.3 million people without full citizenship, over 300,000 are temporary migrant workers. 

Migrant workers do jobs that no one else wants, for wages that no one else will take, in conditions that are absolutely horrifying. Every few months, a migrant worker dies or is seriously injured working, growing and packing food that we eat, or working in the back of a restaurant or a coffee shop, or taking care of children and the elderly.
Migrant workers pay all taxes, but can't get full health care, go to school, or get the pensions that are cut from their paycheques each month.

The simple truth is that this is not fair. To create a fair economic system, we have to get to the root of what it is that keeps these members of the 99% poor and without rights: Citizenship status.


There are 500,000 people that live in Canada, over 200,000 people in the GTA, that have no immigration papers. These people are the undocumented.

Undocumented people pay sales tax, property tax, and often income tax.

Yet they get absolutely no social services. These people, who have first been refused citizenship, are then forced to live in fear of deportation.

Imagine living your entire life in fear. Not being able to open a bank account, get a driver's license, go to a food bank, or a hospital emergency room.

The #Occupy movement is about unity, solidarity, and the 99%. Let's act like it.

Next time someone talk's about citizen's rights, tell them lets talk about people's rights. Next time someone calls immigrants illegals, tell them that a person, a human being cannot be illegal. Next time you hear someone say 'they should go where back to where they came from', remind them that other than Indigenous people none of us are 'from here'.

And if ever immigration enforcement or police comes to arrest people simply because they have no immigration papers, tell them: We are the 99%. Our movement includes everyone, whether they have immigration papers or not.
(originally published in issue #4 of 99: Dispatches from Occupy Toronto, on October 27)

Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.

Creative Commons license icon Creative Commons license icon

About the poster

Trusted by 0 other users.
Has posted 52 times.
View 's profile »

Recent Posts:


Member since December 1969


445 words

The site for the Toronto local of The Media Co-op has been archived and will no longer be updated. Please visit the main Media Co-op website to learn more about the organization.