Two official statements from Canadian coalitions supporting refugee rights in Canada

CCR calls on Canada to increase refugee resettlement and withdraw from Safe Third Country Agreement

In the wake of the January 27 Executive Order signed by the US President, the Canadian Council for Refugees urges Canadians and the Canadian government to redouble their efforts to welcome refugees and to reject all discrimination against Muslims.

The Order temporarily halts all resettlement of refugees to the US, and halves the number of refugees to be resettled in the current year, bars Syrian refugees and discriminates against refugees of Muslim faith or background. The Order also imposes a temporary ban on the admission of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The loss of US leadership on refugee protection will be devastating to refugees globally. This makes Canada’s leadership role more important than ever. While Canada cannot hope to fill the vacuum left by the US, we should certainly do what we can.

In particular, the CCR calls on the Canadian government to respond to the US cuts by increasing Canada’s refugee resettlement targets and by opening the door to more refugee sponsorship applications. The government is planning to bring just 7,500 Government Assisted Refugees and 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees in 2017.

Recent measures have significantly limited Canadian sponsors’ ability to apply to sponsor refugees. These measures include suspension of Quebec’s sponsorship program, a lower than expected cap for Sponsorship Agreement Holders, and limitations for Groups of Five regarding which refugees they can sponsor.

We also urge the Canadian government to offer to resettle, on an emergency basis, all refugees who were approved for resettlement to the US but are now denied entry to the US, over and above Canada’s refugee resettlement targets for 2017.

CCR also calls on the Canadian government to withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, which closes the door to most refugee claimants applying at Canada’s land border. The US was never safe for all refugees and is now even less safe. Withdrawing from the Agreement would mean that those needing Canada’s protection could apply in an orderly way at the border, rather than being forced, as now, to cross the border irregularly, putting themselves at physical danger and promoting opportunities for smugglers.

Canadians who are looking for ways to resist Trump’s measures are encouraged to show solidarity with people of all faiths and to support local organizations who work with refugee claimants. These organizations (which receive little or no government funding) are serving increasing numbers of refugee claimants, many of whom have arrived via the US.

Contact:

Janet Dench, Executive Director, jdench@ccrweb.ca, 514-277-7223 (ext 2)

PRESS RELEASE:
CARL Calls For Suspension of Safe Third Country Agreement, Increased Refugee Re-Settlement, In Wake of Trump Executive Orders

January 30, 2017

For Immediate Release
The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) condemns President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Orders on immigration. These Orders set in motion profound changes in US immigration and refugee practices, and will have far-reaching effects on the availability of asylum in the US.

In the wake of these changes, and given deep uncertainty over their effects, CARL is calling on Canada to immediately suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the US.

Under the STCA, those who try to enter Canada through the US to make a refugee claim at the border are returned to the US regardless of whether they will or already have had access to asylum in the US. The US and Canada have considered one another “safe” for asylum-seekers. The STCA creates a North American approach to refugee approvals. With President Trump’s Executive Orders, the US is unilaterally changing the terms of that approach, with potentially disastrous consequences for vulnerable asylum-seekers.

“We are witnessing a dramatic shift away from basic norms of human rights and refugee protection in the US. In this environment we simply cannot rely on the Trump administration to protect the refugees we turn away at our borders. Canada has a duty to suspend enforcement of the STCA immediately” said Mitch Goldberg, President of CARL.

In light of the unilateral changes announced in the Executive Order, CARL is calling on Canada to reassess US asylum law and practice during the suspension period and, unless the evidence indicates that the US actually complies with its international refugee law obligations, the termination of the agreement.

“We should not be sending anyone back to face an increasingly hostile and discriminatory system,” said Lobat Sadrehashemi, Vice-President of CARL. 

CARL is also calling on Canada to respond to the US suspension of refugee resettlement by increasing the number of refugees it will re-settle in 2017, given the suspension of the US refugee resettlement. “We are living through a global refugee crisis. In addition to the acute needs of refugees from Syria, refugee populations in other parts of the world, including eastern Africa, will be deeply affected by the US decision to suspend its refugee program. Now more than ever, other countries need to step forward,” said Toronto-based refugee lawyer, and CARL Advocacy Chair, Andrew Brouwer.

Finally, CARL is calling on Canada to work with other resettlement countries and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fill the gaps caused by the US suspension of its resettlement program. “We should be working with other countries to ensure that the individuals and families who have already gone through the US’ refugee screening program can be re-settled elsewhere,” said Toronto-based refugee lawyer and past President of CARL, Lorne Waldman.

  • For more information, please contact:
  • Mitch Goldberg, 514-808-0843
  • Lobat Sadrehashemi, 604-374-4860
  • Andrew Brouwer, 416-435-3269
  • Lorne Waldman, 416-254-4590