Structuring and Silencing Unfree Migrant Labour: Racial Capitalism and Canada’s Status-Excluded Communities
In my dissertation, I address the question of if, and to what extent, the contemporary structuring of status-excluded (undocumented) labour in Canada is a continuation of the ways in which racialized migrant labour has been structured in the past. In doing so, I employ the theoretical insights of racial capitalism and its foregrounding of the productivity of racialization in producing and justifying material inequalities. Through the institutional sites of immigration, education, and labour law, I examine the role that law plays in creating the conditions by which undocumented youth are funneled into economically subjugated positions while ostensibly satisfying liberal legal equality commitments. When undocumented youth move (or are pushed) out of school and into to the labour force, existing scholarship on undocumented workers in Canada suggests that many are working in low-paying, exploitative jobs in dangerous conditions without effective recourse to protection. These jobs are commonly to be find in the construction, hospitality, caregiving, and manufacturing industries. Exclusion from valid Social Insurance Numbers ensures that workers may only work in the underground economy, making them particularly vulnerable to dismissal, abuse, and exploitation from employers. I argue that these processes ultimately create a large, unfree, and easily exploitable racialized migrant labour pool in Canada, a core policy objective that I show has been repeatedly pursued under different forms throughout the history of Canadian immigration law from Confederation until today.