Too Long a Wait to Immigrate
A recent article in the Toronto Star highlighted the case of Marcelina Gilles, a Filipino-Canadian who has been waiting 17 years to reunite with her husband and three children in Canada.
Seventeen years. Do you remember what was going on in 1999? It was the year of Y2K fear and a long time before your first smart phone. It was the year when Bill Clinton, still president of our neighbour to the south, came to Ottawa to dedicate the new Embassy of the United States in Canada.
In short, it was a long, long time ago.
Marcelina, now a Canadian citizen, first came to Canada in 1999 under the live-in caregiver program. At that time, her children were just 11, 10 and 8. Now deep into their twenties and each one a parent, she has been battling to have her kids join her here since she qualified to apply for permanent residence in 2002.
After applying for permanent residence almost as soon as she became eligible to do so, her application was rejected because her husband was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and did not pass the medical exam.
Nonetheless, Marcelina got on with things and continued to work in Canada to support her family until 2006, when her work permit expired. However, she was allowed to remain here while her permanent residence application under humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds was being processed.
CIC (now IRCC) belatedly issued Marcelina her permanent status in 2011, five years after the H&C application was made. By this time, however, her children were too old to be considered dependants. However, she asked that her application be given humanitarian and compassionate consideration, given the circumstances.
“Marcelina has been trapped in different sets of rules that have all worked against her,” said Gilles’ lawyer, who has been representing her since 2006. “The delay is not her fault. There are no good reasons why the processing should have taken so long.”
Marcelina is just one of the Filipinos who have made the move to Canada and display traits that are quintessentially Canadian — a strong work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, humility, close family ties . . . the list goes on. It is worth noting that in 2014 the Philippines was the top source country for new Canadian immigrants, ousting China and India to claim the top spot.
The Caregiver Program (formerly the Live-In Caregiver Program) and Canada’s Family Class Sponsorship Programs have allowed many Filipinos to arrive, transition to permanent resident status and, in many cases, sponsor family members to join them in Canada. Within the broader Filipino community in Canada, we have observed success after success of small communities that have flourished across the country.
So it is with great frustration that I read of cases such as that of Marcelina Gilles, a woman who has come to Canada, worked hard, played by the rules, and suffered. If I am frustrated, I can’t imagine how she and her family might feel to be dealing with a Ministry that often lacks compassion and foresight when it comes to assessing certain files.
Filipino communities across Canada are made up of proud, hard-working individuals and families that give more to our country, certainly as much as they take back. Marcelina and her family do not deserve the mistreatment that they have been subjected to.