Thousands of illegal Portuguese immigrants living in Canada face deportation
THE CONSERVATIVE Canadian government has pledged to crack down on thousands of illegal Portuguese immigrants living in Canada. Up to 300 Portuguese families have been given just weeks to leave the country or face deportation. Since January 2006, over 150 Portuguese families have apparently been shipped out of the country.
The recent election of a new Conservative government in Canada has implied a change in policy in relation to illegal immigrants. There are 500,000 Portuguese former nationals living and working in Canada, many in the Toronto area, where 15,000 are believed to be working illegally.
The crisis has provoked the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Freitas do Amaral, to bring up the issue with his Canadian counterpart at a EU meeting scheduled for April 27 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Freitas do Amaral has confirmed that the Portuguese ambassador in Ottawa has been in contact with the Canadian authorities to ask them for time to debate a way of legalising those immigrants who are living in the country without the correct documentation.
The request is particularly aimed at those illegal Portuguese who have valid work contracts and have contributed towards the Canadian economy. However, Freitas do Amaral warned potential “adventurers” not to move to other non-EU countries in search of work, unless they make sure all their paperwork is legal before departure.
Last week, the Secretary of State for the Foreign Portuguese Communities, António Braga, held a meeting with the Canadian ambassador in Lisbon, who guaranteed that there was “no reason for alarm”.
A dozen Luso-Canadian associations in Canada have joined forces to ask the Canadian Federal Immigration Minister to legalise working Portuguese without papers.