Trudeau must match words with action in Trump era, say critics, rights groups
2017/02/02 Leave a comment
Government is wise to wait and monitor before changing such a fundamental policy as safe third country. In the end, should the Trump administration continue with such policies, it will likely become harder to resist such calls, on both policy and political grounds:
Justin Trudeau’s invitation on Twitter to “those fleeing persecution, terror & war” attracted global attention as a subtle response to President Donald Trump’s order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, but now Canadian opposition politicians and human rights groups want Mr. Trudeau to match his words with action.
Mr. Trump’s executive order banned refugees from resettling in the United States for 120 days and nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Thousands of people gathered outside of the U.S. embassy in Washington and consulate in Toronto to protest the decision Monday.
The prime minister’s “diversity is our strength” tweet sent the message that “regardless of [their] faith,” those seeking refuge will find an open door to Canada as the one in the U.S. temporarily closes.
The New Democratic and Green parties, along with Amnesty International’s Canadian and U.S. sections, in turn have called on the federal government to remove the U.S. as a “safe third country” for refugee determination under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
A 2004 order-in-council giving the U.S. that designation, which was briefly overturned by the Federal Court and later reinstituted by the Federal Court of Appeal, requires most refugees travelling through the U.S. to Canada to make a claim for protection in the U.S.
Amnesty wants Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen (York-South Weston, Ont.) to immediately rescind the U.S. as a safe country and allow refugees to cross the border and seek asylum in Canada. “The risk of not doing this is going to deny an avenue of protection for people who are going to need it in the days, weeks, and months to come,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, who believes that Mr. Trump might support the U.S.’s removal as a safe haven.
“It would mean more refugee claimants turning to Canada for protection rather than the United States, which seems to be what he wants,” said Mr. Neve. “Canada doesn’t have to issue a press release loudly and angrily denouncing the U.S.’s refugee-protection record. It’s something that can be done quietly and quickly through an order-in-council.”