Canada must offer sanctuary for refugees, as U.S. fails the safety test

June 19, 2018

This year, international recognition of the United Nations’ World Refugee Day is set against the backdrop of harsh new policies being imposed on migrants by the U.S. government. Canada’s unions are marking the occasion by calling on the Canadian government to embrace migrants and refugees and re-examine the status of the United States as a “safe third country.”

“The Canadian government has a moral duty and an international obligation to ensure that we provide a safe haven for all people fleeing imminent danger, disaster and war. The U.S. has failed the safety test for migrants and we cannot send displaced families who meet the refugee criteria back into another climate of fear and persecution,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

A year after issuing a controversial Executive Order barring Syrian refugees and discriminating against travellers from predominantly Muslim countries, American authorities have been instructed to rigorously enforce migrant detention and the separation of children from parents caught crossing into the U.S. The Trump administration announced further plans to deny survivors of domestic violence the ability to claim asylum, even when authorities in their homeland will do nothing to protect them.

“The history of Japanese internment and Canada’s residential school system offer lessons that we cannot afford to ignore. In modern immigration policy, there should be no place for practices that treat thousands of desperate refugees like criminals, tear children from their parents and deport women back to abusive situations. Canada must be unwavering in its commitment to championing human rights and international law,” said Yussuff.

Canada has expressly refused to discriminate in its immigration policy based on faith or ethnicity. That’s why Canada’s unions are calling on the Trudeau government to further distinguish itself by taking immediate steps to publicly challenge America’s new immigration policies and to encourage Canadians to continue to open their hearts and homes to the world’s most vulnerable people.

These steps include:

  • Re-examining Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States to ensure that all migrants entering Canada through the U.S. have their claims for refugee protection fairly and properly processed;
  • Helping those stranded now, on an emergency basis, by offering asylum to all those who – despite having passed a two-year rigorous screening process – are being denied entry to the U.S.; and
  • Launching an intensive public awareness campaign to educate Canadians about Canada’s rigorous border security and the dire and vulnerable circumstances facing refugees in the lands from which they flee.

The Canadian Labour Congress represents 3.3 million unionized workers and has been actively campaigning to raise public awareness around the plight of refugees and to encourage Canadian municipalities to declare themselves “sanctuary cities” for international refugees.

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