Following US President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily blocking refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, Canadian immigration advocates launched a petition urging Prime Minister Trudeau to rescind an agreement between Canada and the United States under which refugees arriving from the United States are prohibited from requesting asylum in Canada.
The agreement, which came into effect in 2004, prevents refuges from “shopping around” for a safe haven, and helps the US and Canadian governments better manage access to the refugee system in each country for people crossing the Canada–U.S. land border.
The petition, sponsored by Ryan M., and signed by over 41,000 people, urges Trudeau, who “has posted selfies of himself with a Syrian refugee in Canada”, to take in the refugees rejected by President Trump.
According to the petition, the Canadian Council for Refugees which has opposed the agreement says that the agreement “violates refugee rights established in Canada 20 years ago…including the right to an oral hearing before being denied entry.”
On January 28, 2017 Trudeau made it clear that he rejects Trump’s executive order when he posted the following statement on Facebook: “To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada”
In an implicit defiant message to Trump’s policy, Trudeau also tweeted that “A Canadian is a Canadian”, which was one of his slogans during the election campaign and which has since has become an important pillar of his diversity and inclusion-for-all policy.
Immigration experts, who urge Trudeau to suspend the Third Safe Country Agreement, are also considering taking the federal government to court.
In a letter sent to Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, Marty Dolin – head of Welcome Place, Manitoba’s largest refugee-settlement agency, wrote:
“Given the events of the last few days, it seems obvious that the U.S. is no longer a “safe third country”. It also appears obvious that the Safe Third Country Agreement should be cancelled, but until a decision is made regarding this you should be giving an immediate directive to the Border Security officials not to send anyone back to the U.S., agreement or no agreement. This should protect people at risk and give your government time to consider appropriate actions for the longer term. Please act quickly, lives are at stake.”
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org