Undocumented Residents : Not Just An American Problem

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Undocumented Residents: Not Just an American Problem
David and I have been best friends for as long as we can remember. Part of what brought us together was how similar our stories began. We were both born in Portugal but came to Canada before the age of one where we grew up in neighbouring basement apartments. We would spend most of the day together: our parents would drop us off at the same babysitter before going to work, we were in the same class during the day, and we would play late into the evening while we waited for our parents to return. While we were very similar children, our situations were vastly different: while my parents came to Canada as landed immigrants, David’s parents came as visitors that never returned, or
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Illegal immigration has become a hot international issue over the past years. Often, Canadians scoff at the topic and innocently boast about our self-righteous Canadian superiority suggesting that it is not a problem at home. However, it is a problem—a big problem. There are well over 500,000 undocumented immigrants in Canada, many of whom, like David, had no say in the matter (1). These residents are one of the most vulnerable in the country as their illegal status makes them susceptible to exploitation at work, exclusion in society, and adverse health consequences. Physicians are placed in a tough situation. On one hand they have the moral responsibility to help anyone in need regardless of immigration status. On the other hand, this goodwill can be seen as encouraging illegal migration—a selfish, unfair, and dangerous behaviour that perhaps does merit some of its consequences. The problem is that not everyone who is an illegal resident chose to be one. Further, even the individuals that willingly chose this path for themselves are not entirely to blame: there is a driving force that fuels this migration and includes everyone from the businesspeople that hire them to those that rent them an apartment. As long as this driving force persists so too will the migration problem and society has an
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