Fri, June 8, 2007
Construction workers unsure what MP motion means
By TOM GODFREY, SUN MEDIA
A motion by more than 140 MPs to stop the deportation of construction workers has sparked confusion at Toronto job sites as many illegals wonder if they can stay or if they have to go.
The motion passed late Wednesday by a vote of 147 to 115 but was voted against by the ruling Conservatives.
Toronto roofer Sergio DaSilva, 32, said most workers don't know what's going on in Ottawa because they're too busy working 12 to 14 hours a day.
"People are confused about where they stand," he said yesterday. "Everyone wants to know if they'll still be deported."
DaSilva arrived in Canada as a visitor from Portugal in 2001 and overstayed. He re-applied and was granted legal status last February.
Toronto lawyer Richard Boraks said the motion is not law because it is not supported by the Conservatives. He said the motion is being perceived by some that they won't be arrested by police and deported.
IMPACT ON STREET
"(The motion) is cosmetic and doesn't change anything," Boraks said yesterday. "(But) this will have a tremendous impact on the street" in how it's perceived.
Immigration lawyer Mendel Green said the Tories must adopt the motion because the workers are badly needed for the construction trade in Toronto, oil-sand projects in Alberta and for building venues for the B.C. Olympics.
"This will be a serious economic blow to the industry if these workers don't stay," Green said. "The government should be removing criminals, not construction workers."
NDP MP Olivia Chow, who spearheaded the motion, said the Conservatives will at some point have to respect the vote by MPs and place a moratorium on the deportations.
"The government can't ignore the will of the people," Chow said, adding an immigration standing committee will hear the issue this fall.
Tony Letra, of the Undocumented Workers Committee, said there are as many as 10,000 illegal construction workers in the GTA. Letra said many of the illegals are moving to Alberta for the work.