Punjabi Language Interview on a Potential Amnesty for the Undocumented

During my recent interview with Rishi Nagar, news director of RedFM, on May 27, 2024, conducted in Punjabi, we discussed the Trudeau government’s movement towards an amnesty to undocumented individuals in Canada.

Their are arguments for and against the amnesty or regularization of those without status.

This is a controversial proposal and there are of course both positives and negatives to such a a policy.

On the positive side:

  • $$ … Regularization could result in significant positive economic impact. Many undocumented immigrants work in sectors experiencing labor shortages, such as agriculture and construction. Further, legalization would likely increase tax revenues as the undocumented shift from informal to formal employment.
  • An amnesty would be in line with Canada’s humanitarian tradition. Regularization ensures access to essential human rights, including healthcare and education, and offers protection against exploitation. Many undocumented immigrants have strong family ties here and regularization will help prevent family separation (under the table to a notice of assessment.


On the negative side:

  • Such a policy could incentivize non-compliance and regularization might be seen as unfair to those who have followed legal immigration procedures.
  • The government was just talking about international students and temporary foreign workers depressing wages for Canadians and permanent residents. Legalizing hundreds of thousands (we don’t know the scope of this policy) could lower wages particularly for low-skilled workers.
  • Canada’s public resources already appear under strain and regularization will mean additional demand on healthcare and perhaps in time additional demand for affordable housing.

I will note that there are also numerous challenges in executing such a policy like conducting thorough background checks.

Further, there’s the very real possibility that the government will further undermine public support for immigration and immigrants. Tony Keller has written a recent piece on this very issue for the Globe and Mail.

Finally, the recent movements of the government on this matter are hard to square with their concurrent plans to reduce the number of temporary residents in Canada by 19%, approximately 475,000.