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[Report] Call for donations of winter clothing and accessories for refugee claimants

Elle est de dos et regarde une cour enneigée.

Ximena (nom fictif) fait partie des milliers de demandeurs d'asile arrivés au Canada en 2022.

Photo: RCI - Radio Canadá Internacional / Martínez Méndez

Paloma Martínez Méndez

Montreal community organizations are appealing to the public to help the thousands of Latin American refugees arriving in the city in precarious conditions.

Reporter : Paloma Martínez Méndez

Ximena (not her real name) arrived in Montreal on June 2, 2022, as a refugee

claimant, along with her husband Ricardo.*

She is still waiting for a work permit almost five months later. Her economic

situation is such that basic necessities, including food and winter clothing, remain

out of reach.

 My most pressing need is a stable job. The government’s financial assistance only provides enough money to cover our rent. And with winter upon us, the prices of clothing and boots have gone up Without jobs, I don’t know where we will find the money to pay for these items

- Ximena, Canadian refugee claimant

Ximena and Ricardo have no choice but to persevere and ask for help, since

quality winter coats run upwards of $200. Winter boots are around the same

price—and then there are the gloves, scarves and toques.

It all adds up to around $500 per person, if not more.

This makes second-hand clothes the most viable option.

A full set of winter clothing, including a coat, boots, gloves, scarf and hat, can be $500 or more.

A full set of winter clothing, including a coat, boots, gloves, scarf and hat, can be $500 or more.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Catherine Paradis

Call for support

On November 26, Emma Le Lain organized a donation drive at Saint-Édouard

Church in Montreal as part of the Foire latine, an initiative of Casa de las

Américas and the Coalition pour l'intégration latino-québécoise.

 We became aware of this humanitarian crisis sparked by thearrival of thousands of people. Most are from Colombia, Haiti andMexico, and many are women and children. The majority are Spanish speaking, which is why we decided to appeal to Montreal’s Latin American community.

- Emma Le Lain, Coordinator

Emma Le Lain is working towards her master’s in sociology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
PHOTO: RADIOCANADA / PALOMA MARTINEZMENDEZ

Emma Le Lain is working towards her master’s in sociology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). PHOTO: RADIOCANADA / PALOMA MARTINEZMENDEZ

Photo: Radio-Canada / Paloma Martinez-Mendez

All donated products and goods were given to the Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers (PRAIDA)  and Welcome Collective. Emma Le Lain was the ideal person to coordinate this donation drive. In addition to her work with the Casa de las Américas and the Latinarte Foundation of Montreal, she is a master’s student in sociology at the Université du Québec àMontréal (UQAM).Her thesis examines Canada’s processing of Mexican refugee claimants. We are overwhelmed

Members of the Montreal Mexican Business Alliance (ACOMM) in front of Café Latino
Comunitario, which opened in 2022.
PHOTO: CORTESÍA: ACOMM

Members of the Montreal Mexican Business Alliance (ACOMM) in front of Café Latino Comunitario, which opened in 2022. PHOTO: CORTESÍA: ACOMM

Photo: Cortesía: ACOMM

The Café Latino/Montreal Mexican Business Alliance/ACCOM, which works with

newcomers and families of entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic, reports the

same findings.

“We have recently seen a huge influx of newcomers applying for refugee

protection,” says Irlanda Espinoza, founder of the of Montreal Mexican Business

Alliance (ACOMM) and Café Latino.

Espinoza says that 672 refugee claimants have been registered in the agency’s

database since January 2022. In 2021, there were 564.

 They come seeking basic items, especially for winter. Hats, scarves, boots and coats for adults, teenagers and children. We would also like to be able to provide heaters because we know that their housing conditions aren’t ideal—they’re likely to get cold.

-Irlanda Espinoza, founder of ACOMM and Café Latino

ACOMM’s activities coordinator says that while her organization receives many

donations, they are all snapped up quickly and more are needed to meet the high

demand.

Ximena and Ricardo still do not have a coat suitable for January and February,

the harshest winter months.

However, the couple’s main concern is securing a hearing before the Immigration

and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), which could grant them their “brown

Sample of the “brown sheet” issued to refugee claimants by the Canadian government.
Applicants normally receive this document when they arrive in Canada, but the process has been
delayed in recent months due to the high volume of applications.
PHOTO: FUENTE: GOBIERNO DE CANADÁ

Sample of the “brown sheet” issued to refugee claimants by the Canadian government. Applicants normally receive this document when they arrive in Canada, but the process has been delayed in recent months due to the high volume of applications. PHOTO: FUENTE: GOBIERNO DE CANADÁ

Photo: Fuente: Gobierno de Canadá

sheet” (see above photo), a document that provides temporary residency, which

would accord them rights as people admitted to the country on humanitarian and

political grounds.

This includes the right to obtain study and work permits.

 A lawyer is expediting the work permit process. Immigration Canada said we will have to wait until the end of January or the beginning of February because of the number of immigrants arrivingin Canada. They also said that if they find us working in a factory,they will report us immediately and we will be banned from enteringCanada for three years.

- Ximena, refugee claimant

Ximena and Ricardo’s case is far from exceptional. The findings of these

immigrant settlement and assistance organizations have been confirmed by the

IRB: there has been a significant increase in the number of claims.

Between January and October 2022, Canada received 71,840 refugee claims,

nearly three times more than in 2021 (24,930 claims) and nearly one and a half

times more than before the pandemic.

This surge of applications is largely due to the increase in the number of people

irregularly crossing the U.S.-Canada land border following the lifting of COVID19

border restrictions in November 2021.

Between January and October 2022, 31,003 people were intercepted by the

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). This figure is more than double the

pre-pandemic number (13,702 from January to October 2019) and 80% higher

than in 2017, when irregular entries peaked.

As in previous years, the vast majority of irregular entries (99%) are occurring in

Quebec, with most of them at Roxham Road on the New York State border.

*Radio Canada International (RCI) has agreed to protect the identity of these individuals

as they fear they may be penalized in the processing of their asylum claims.

Paloma Martínez Méndez

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