Toronto Metropolitan University
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Employment equity and access to social welfare for Illegalized immigrants: an inclusive approach that also makes economic sense

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-05-24, 20:50 authored by Charity-Ann Hannan
The global English-language literature on the effects of illegalized migrants on the labour market is heavily influenced by American studies. While many studies have examined the lived experiences of illegalized immigrants in general, comparatively few have examined the effect of illegalized immigrants on labour markets in a Canadian and European context. The literature review reveals four main findings: 1. Increasingly restrictive policies towards immigrants and employers have adversely affected illegalized immigrants’ labour market outcomes during the past three decades. 2. Illegalized immigrants have positively affected the earnings of native-born skilled workers and negatively affect the earnings of native-born unskilled workers. The effect of illegalized immigrants on the employment rates of native-borns has been negligible. 3. Illegalized immigrants have positively affected the national-level social welfare system. The findings for illegalized immigrants’ effects on state/provincial and local-level social welfare systems are mixed. 4. Organizations have benefitted from employing illegalized immigrants whose illegality renders them vulnerable to exploitation and unable to make demands for equitable remuneration. While a direct link between increasingly restrictive policies towards immigrants, their labour market outcomes, and their utilization of social welfare systems has not yet been examined in Canada, findings from the U.S. and several European countries can inform recommendations that may be useful for industrialized countries. First, findings from these studies indicate that all levels of government should work together to create policies that include illegalized immigrants as equal members of society, rather than maintain the current system(s) that illegalizes them. This includes providing illegalized immigrants with equitable access to social welfare at federal, state/provincial, and municipal levels. Various Solidarity City movements in Canada, the U.S., and Europe could be examined, and the best practices applied to state/provincial and federal levels to begin this process. Second, all levels of government should work together to create a policy framework that mandates employers to provide equitable remuneration to illegalized immigrants. This policy should also hold employers accountable for achieving these goals. Canada's current Employment Equity Act (1995) and various state/provincial level Equality & Human Rights Legislations could be amended to protect illegalized immigrants from exploitation. Third, until illegalized immigrants are no longer exploited based on their illegality, all levels of government should fund community-based organizations to provide them with the resources they need to facilitate their inclusion into the society in which they work. By brokering relationships between exploited illegalized immigrant workers and existing labour market institutions, community organizations like the Latino Organization of the Southwest's (LOS) Economic Development Centre (EDC), located in Chicago, USA, can help improve the quality of illegalized immigrants’ jobs and thus support more positive labour market outcomes.