The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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‘We are part of Malta’s economic success’: migrants demand stability, not uncertainty

Thursday, 22 February 2024, 12:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

Long-term migrants living and working in Malta said they are uniting to demand stability, not uncertainty, in their lives, saying that they are part of Malta’s economic success but are still facing discrimination and marginalisation.

In a statement issued Thursday, endorsed by several NGOs, the migrants urged action from authorities as they are “in constant fear” of having documents withdrawn for no valid reason, leaving them vulnerable to deportation, exploitation and unpredictability.

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The migrants will be holding a manifestation on Sunday to demand that they receivce stability in their lives.

“We arrived in Malta years ago, leaving behind critical situations in our countries of origin, and now call Malta home. Although we were neither given protection nor a residence card, we were given the right to work legitimately and in turn to pay tax and national insurance for decades. We have worked for years, side-by-side with our Maltese colleagues, made friends, set up family and had children in Malta,” the migrants said.

“We are part of Malta’s economic success, we have filled labour gaps, and we have contributed to a welfare system that we can never be beneficiaries of. Our children know no other country, no other society but the Maltese one. They are, in fact, though not in law, Maltese. And yet we continue to face discrimination, marginalisation and uncertainty,” the migrants said.

The migrants urgently call for the release of Kusi Dismark, a long-standing member of our community who is facing deportation after 13 years of living and setting up a business in Malta.

"We also call for the release of individuals who, like Kusi, have been living in Malta for over 5 years and more, and have also been recently detained with a view to deportation."

"We are requesting the government to introduce a residence permit for anyone who has been working and living in Malta for a substantial amount of time. This could be the reintroduction of a scheme similar to the Specific Residence Authorisation, which was abruptly withdrawn, or the possibility to apply for a Single Work Permit. This measure is essential to provide stability and legal recognition to those who have long been integral parts of Malta’s society and economy."

"Regularisation also serves the Maltese economy by allowing us migrants, who are already in the country, to work and to continue to drive industry in a long-term and stable manner. “It also allows us to better take care of ourselves and our children, to further our education and be effectively part of society,” the migrants said.

"Our children have not lived in or visited any other country besides Malta. Malta is their home, and Maltese is their language of friendship, education, culture and eventually working life. They deserve citizenship rights and denying them such creates unnecessary barriers and uncertainties in their lives, jeopardising their access to education, healthcare, and other essential services," the statement said.

They also called for comprehensive social support for individuals in our community with disabilities or those unable to work due to various reasons, such as old age or sickness. Although they may have contributed for years by paying tax and national insurance, they are not entitled to any disability or unemployment benefit. Access to adequate support is crucial to ensuring the well-being of all and the dignity of all.

As long-term undocumented migrants in Malta "we are not asking for special treatment; we are simply demanding stability: the recognition of years of hard work, integration efforts, and contribution to Maltese society. There is nothing fair or just in leaving us and our children in this state of uncertainty and fear. There is no equality without equity!"

The migrants will be meeting on Sunday 25 February at 3pm at Ħamrun Square and will be walking to Valletta to present our demands to Parliament. We are supported in this protest by our employers, our neighbours, our colleagues and our friends. "We invite members of the migrant community, employers, friends, Maltese and other residents who support our cause to join us!"

The protest is endorsed by the following organisations:

aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Blue Door Education, Dance Beyond Borders, Integra Foundation, JRS Malta, Justice and Peace Commission, Kopin, Lawyers For Choice (L4C), Men Against Violence, Moviment Graffitti, Migrant Women Association Malta, MGRM - Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, Office of the Dean - Faculty of Education University of Malta, Repubblika, SAR Malta Network, Solidarjetá, SOS Malta, Syrian Solidarity in Malta, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, and #OccupyJustice.

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