Donald Trump defies calls to appoint envoy to combat anti-Semitism around the world | The Independent

Interesting that his issue is getting more widespread coverage (Jewish and Israeli media have been covering this extensively). Hard to understand the reluctance to appoint both the envoy and maintain the staff (one can make the argument, as Tillerson has, that special envoys let other officials off the hook but overall, the absence of an envoy and staff means a lower profile domestically and internationally):

Donald Trump has defied calls to appoint a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism across the world despite growing pressure from Jewish groups and Congress.

The two remaining staffers in the US State Department’s office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism are reportedly set to be reassigned next month, which will leave the branch completely unstaffed after 1 July.

Officials are yet to comment on the reported move, but insist they remain committed to fighting discrimination against Jews.

President Trump is legally required to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, a position created under former president George W. Bush.

Members of Congress from the Republican and Democrat parties have urged his administration to strengthen the office’s status in letters and proposed bills.

But earlier this month Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told them special envoys were not productive and said appointing one could weaken efforts to tackle anti-Semitism.

The US State Department said they had produced annual reports about human rights and religious freedom before the office was created in 2004, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency(JTA).

They told the JTA: “We want to ensure the Department is addressing anti-Semitism in the most effective and efficient method possible and will continue to endeavor to do so.

“The Department of State condemns attacks on Jewish communities and individuals. We consistently urge governments around the world to address and condemn anti-Semitism and work with vulnerable Jewish communities to assess and provide appropriate levels of security.

“The Department, our Embassies, and our Consulates support extensive bilateral, multilateral, and civil society outreach to Jewish communities.

“Additionally, the State Department continues to devote resources towards programs combating anti-Semitism online and off, as well as building NGO coalitions in Europe.

“We also closely monitor global anti-Semitism and report on it in our Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and International Religious Freedom Report, which document global anti-Semitism in 199 countries.”

The Anti-Defamation League has launched an online petition calling for the White House to fill the position.

The group’s CEO John Greenblatt said “maintaining the special envoy for anti-Semitism seems like a no-brainer” in an interview with the JTA.

“The idea of having a dedicated envoy who can travel around the world to raise awareness on this issue is critical,” he added.

Source: Donald Trump defies calls to appoint envoy to combat anti-Semitism around the world | The Independent

Trump Sets Up The Next Anti-Semitism Envoy For Failure – The Forward

Valid commentary by Shai Franklin who worked on antisemitism both with Europe and the Bush administration:

Responding to American Jewish anxieties, the Trump administration has indicated it will be filling the post of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS). Before popping Champagne corks, we should understand the severe limitations of such a role amid a retrenchment of U.S. diplomacy and serious challenges to civil rights by our own government.

If the President fills the SEAS slot, we can certainly work with his appointee and utilize those resources. And it is important that Congress not permit the budget for this post to be eliminated. But we must not ignore the obvious, unprecedented limitations and contradictions.
The entire SEAS cachet was predicated on U.S. moral leadership, as an example at home and a force for democracy abroad, applying over two centuries of painful lessons learned. At this time, the best channel for globally combating anti-Semitism is to insist that our government recommit to upholding minority rights domestically and to demanding other countries respect fundamental freedoms and civil society. Without that, SEAS won’t be much more than a trophy on a Trump donor’s shelf.

At a time when the Secretary of State is the only Presidential appointee in the State Department, when the only new U.S. Ambassador – to Israel – has yet to take up his post, with whom would an anti-Semitism envoy collaborate within the building or coordinate in the field? What follow-through can there be from a bureaucracy that’s being scaled back and dismantled?

When the Administration has dismissed all U.S. Attorneys around the country, without naming a single permanent replacement, how do we convince other countries to prosecute hate crimes against Jews or others?

What credibility will any U.S. diplomat have in urging other governments to take meaningful action, that the rights of Jews are integral to the concept of universal human rights – rights our own government no longer trumpets?

Beyond highlighting the plight of Christians in some Muslim-majority countries, the Trump administration has barely mentioned minority rights or human rights. Last month, President Trump first gave a warm Oval Office welcome to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, whose ongoing military crackdown earns him the worst human rights records in the country’s modern history. The President then called to congratulate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan for a referendum granting him sweeping powers to crack down on civil society and the rule of law.

Imagine a newly elected foreign leader who argues the Holocaust wasn’t specifically about Jews, who waits weeks before denouncing a nationwide vandalism wave against Jewish cemeteries, whose own spokesman insists Syria’s Bashar Assad is worse than Adolf Hitler? Now imagine that same leader brings in a leading white supremacist (recently sanitized to “Alt-Right”) bandleader as his policy chief.

How can any American reasonably admonish Hungary’s Prime Minister for feeding xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria, when President Trump’s counter-terror advisor appears to be a member in Hungary’s far right Vitezi Rend – in which case he shouldn’t even be allowed to be in the United States.

Across America, Jews and Muslims are finding common cause – defending each other’s institutions and proactively promoting mutual respect and cooperation. This is the best answer to those seeking to divide and isolate us as a nation and as a society.

A critical step 15 years ago in convincing European governments to join forces against anti-Semitism was the commitment of American Jewish organizations and the U.S. Government to also fighting Islamophobia. How will the concerns of a Trump envoy be received in any European capital, while our President and his administration are actively pushing to ban visitors from Muslim countries, to stop admitting all refugees? When our President uses his first Congressional address to demonize immigrants, when he wants to build a physical wall along our border and is sending immigration squads into urban neighborhoods, will it help Jews to be the only group with a special envoy?

The best way to stand up for Jews abroad is to embrace universal human rights in partnership with other minorities, to encourage rather than stifle international exchange and engagement, and to be as sensitive to Jewish fears at home as we demand of other countries. It also helps if the State Department’s diplomatic machinery and decision-making apparatus aren’t confined to a few period rooms on the seventh floor.

An anti-Semitism envoy can work effectively with other countries and within our own government to address the persistent and evolving challenges of anti-Semitism – if these logistical and thematic impediments are remedied. Even then, restoring the credibility and moral leadership of the United States could take decades, and every future U.S. envoy will probably have to walk a bit more humbly than before. Pretending otherwise would harm our own credibility as a Jewish community and undermine the legitimacy of our cause.

Source: Trump Sets Up The Next Anti-Semitism Envoy For Failure – The Forward

Canadian schools abandoning U.S. trips because of Trump ban

Multiculturalism, inclusion and solidarity – making a conscious choice to avoid exclusion:

Toronto parent Katie Lynes said she has heard disappointment among families about the cancellation of school trips, but there is also unease about events in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The TDSB travel ban mostly affects music students at her daughters’ school in north Toronto. The music teacher usually organizes trips to New York and Chicago, and is now considering options within Canada.

“Our board, and our school, is multicultural and inclusive, so the idea of certain kids potentially being stopped at the border or turned away does not sit well,” Ms. Lynes said. She added: “Disappointment over cancellation of trips is something that kids and families should be able to handle, especially when they realize that it’s in the service of larger principles, such as equity, inclusiveness and fairness.”

At Westmount, Ms. Jafralie, an ethics and religion teacher, said discussions about changing the itinerary allowed for a learning opportunity for her students. She and her students were disappointed that they wouldn’t visit the American sites, but not upset enough to leave classmates behind.

“We have a diverse population and we embrace our diversity. We’re just not willing to take the risk. We’re just not willing to break us all up,” she said.

Source: Canadian schools abandoning U.S. trips because of Trump ban – The Globe and Mail

Trump Making ‘Nativist’ Group’s Wish List a Reality – The Daily Beast

Disturbing and part of a pattern:

On April 11, 2016, a tiny think tank with a bland name published a 79-point wish list. The list garnered virtually no media coverage, and in the 11 months since its publication has been largely ignored—except, apparently, by the White House.

Today, Donald Trump seems to be working through it as he rolls out his immigration policy. A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration. It’s a course of events that has that think tank cautiously exultant and has immigrants’ rights activists anxious and disturbed.

CIS is one of the most vocal groups supporting increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. It played a key role in torpedoing the 2013 Gang of 8 comprehensive immigration reform bill, and is a long-time favorite of Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller.

Its newfound influence isn’t just on paper and in policy.

Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, told The Daily Beast that last month, for the first time, his group scored an invite to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement stakeholder meeting, a gathering that happens a few times a year where ICE leaders talk policy and procedure with immigration lawyers and activists. And he said that since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been in touch with new appointees at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a new level of access and influence that helps explain the quick, dramatic changes Trump has made in immigration policy—changes that will impact millions of people.

“We’re a think tank,” Krikorian said. “Our job is to put stuff out there. Our job is to put a message in a bottle and hope somebody finds it.”

It’s been found.

Just 50 days into his presidency, and Trump’s team has already discussed, proposed, or implemented upwards of a dozen of CIS’s ideas.

For instance, the 29th item on CIS’s list calls for detention of people coming to the U.S. seeking asylum.

“Doing so will restore integrity to an out-of-control system that encourages both border surges and asylum fraud,” the memo reads.

Feb. 21 memo from the Department of Homeland Security laid out how the department is working to quickly expand detention of undocumented immigrants, including asylum seekers….

In some cases, the president’s executive orders all but lift language from CIS’s list. For instance, this is the 65th item on the CIS list:

“Rescind all outstanding ‘prosecutorial discretion’ policies; eliminate the ‘Priority Enforcement Program’, and reinstitute Secure Communities.”

And this appeared in Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order:

“The Secretary shall immediately take all appropriate action to terminate the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) described in the memorandum issued by the Secretary on November 20, 2014, and to reinstitute the immigration program known as ‘Secure Communities’ referenced in that memorandum.”

The Priority Enforcement Program directed ICE agents to focus their enforcement on undocumented immigrants who had convicted crimes. Now that PEP is toast, most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are targets for deportation….

And the controversial VOICE office Trump announced at his speech to Congress—which would provide special advocacy and support to Americans hurt by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants—may have had its genesis with CIS. Item number 72 on their list calls for the creation of a “victims advocacy unit” responsible for “providing services to those who have been victimized by illegal alien criminals.”

Krikorian predicted an imminent step from the Trump administration could be worksite raids targeting places of employment for undocumented immigrants. That hasn’t happened yet on a widespread level, he added, but the president could direct it.

“It’s still early, so I expect stuff like that’s going to happen,” he said. “In a sense, that’s the next thing that I’d be looking for.”

And Krikorian’s group has more access than ever to the people who make immigration policy decisions. He said that in February, a representative from the group attended one of the stakeholder meetings that ICE has with immigration advocates several times per year. For CIS, it was a big first: Obama’s DHS had shown zero appetite to have CIS at the table for those meetings, which address wonky procedural issues like how immigrants are transported between detention facilities, how much access attorneys have to them, and how bond gets handled. Meeting participants include the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Bar Association’s immigration project, and immigrants’ rights advocates. And, now, CIS—a leading proponent of increased detention and deportation.

CIS isn’t the only restrictionist group to find newly open ears at DHS. Dan Stein, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Beast his group was also invited to the meeting as well (though he added it received meeting invites from the Obama administration too). Stein said his group has found the Trump administration to be very open to their ideas.

“As you might imagine, the communication is much better now, and people are asking us to attend all kinds of different meetings,” he said. “FAIR is a very important organization for explaining to people the purposes and strategies behind various administration strategies, and quite naturally the administration would have an interest in making sure we understood the information and properly explain it to people if we’re asked. When I go on CNN to explain the trump travel ban, I expect to have somebody explain it to me in a way I understand.”

And Roy Beck, who heads NumbersUSA—a restrictionist group that boasts a 1.5 million-member email list—said his organization was invited to the ICE stakeholder meeting as well, and has found open ears in the Trump administration, particularly DHS.

“What they’re trying to do meshes with what our organization has always tried to do,” he told The Daily Beast.

These three groups share a co-founder: John Tanton, a population control activist who flirted with racist pseudo-science, supported Planned Parenthood, and argued that immigration and population growth were bad for the environment. Immigrants’ rights advocates argue that the groups are covertly white supremacist and motivated by animus towards people of color. These groups, meanwhile, argue that activists who support immigrants’ rights are secretly in the pocket of corporate interests looking to drive down wages by bringing in immigrants willing to work for less than native-born Americans.

David Leopold, who formerly headed AILA, told The Daily Beast he found CIS’s invitation unsettling.

“I don’t know what the Center for Immigration Studies would be doing there honestly,” he said. “I don’t know why they would be there. What business do they have there? Do they represent people in proceedings? What business does Mark Krikorian have at the ICE liaison committee meeting?”

And Frank Sharry, who heads the activist group America’s Voice, said he shared those concerns and found CIS’s invitation “very disturbing.”

“You have this nativist cabal that has been on the outside looking in for 25 years and now they’re on the inside looking out, and they’re going to have outsized influence,” he said. “In fact, you could say that these groups—CIS and their fellow travelers—are going to own what the Trump administration does on immigration and refugee policy. I’m sure that makes them very happy. I think it should make the country alarmed.”

Source: Trump Making ‘Nativist’ Group’s Wish List a Reality – The Daily Beast

Holocaust Organizations, Scholars Slam Possible Defunding of Anti-Semitism Office

Will be surprising if the Trump administration pursues defunding as they should have learned from previous mistakes (i.e., not mentioning Jewish victims of the Holocaust, delayed condemnation of antisemitic acts and hate crimes). But who knows:

As President Donald Trump prepared to enter the White House, reports began to circulate about what his first budget proposal would look like. The day before his inauguration, The Hill reported on plans of the incoming administration to make drastic cuts in government spending, including the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and reductions in funding and program eliminations within the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Justice and State.

Within this last department, Bloomberg reported late last month, the administration was considering whether to eliminate several special envoys, including one on anti-Semitism. On Monday, more than 100 Holocaust organizations, educators and scholars released a statement in response, following similar efforts by the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.). William L. Shulman, president of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, tells Newsweek it took the intervening time to put together the statement, edit it and circulate it for signatures.

“We are alarmed by reports that the President plans to defund the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, an office that tracks and counteracts anti-Semitism abroad,” the Association of Holocaust Organizations wrote. “We urge the U.S. government to maintain and strengthen the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and to create a new office to address this urgent issue domestically.

The office in question was created via the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, which expressed “the sense of Congress [that] the United States should continue to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism worldwide through bilateral relationships and interaction with international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)” and that “the Department of State should thoroughly document acts of anti-Semitism that occur around the world.” The act directed the Secretary of State to establish an Office to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism, which would be headed by a special envoy, to take on the role of tracking, reporting on and combating anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem,” Ira Forman, who served as the most recent Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism under former President Barack Obama, is quoted as saying in the release. “Jew-hatred—like other forms of religious and ethnic prejudice—is a threat to the very foundations of liberal democracies.” Speaking to Jewish Insider about the possible defunding, Forman said, “I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense than to realize that this is a disaster…. This is as bipartisan an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their senses.”

Source: Holocaust Organizations, Scholars Slam Possible Defunding of Anti-Semitism Office

Shouldn’t Israel Care About Anti-Semitism? – The New York Times

This piece by Shmuel Rosner worth noting post-Trump International Holocaust Remembrance Day deliberately not mentioning Jewish victims:

Occasionally, there is even a temptation for Israel to benefit from anti-Semitism. In recent years, rather than focus on the need to fight anti-Semitism in France, Israel called on French Jews to come live in Israel.

Of course, when Israel encounters a clear-cut case of Holocaust denial, or of persecution of Jews, it does not shy away from making its voice heard. Two years ago, the Israeli foreign minister warned European far-right parties that they must shun neo-Nazis and described Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn as “illegitimate.”

But most of the time, Israel attempts to delicately balance its wish to delegitimize anti-Semitism and its need to maintain foreign relations that advance its causes. Sometimes this means using attacks on Jews to attract Jewish immigration to Israel. Sometimes this means turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism in exchange for political support. Sometimes this means ignoring the trivialization of Jewish deaths in the Holocaust.

This is as unavoidable as it is troubling, even painful. Israel is a state with interests and priorities among which censuring anti-Semitism is one, but not the only one.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, understood this when he agreed to accept reparations from Germany, less than a decade after the Holocaust. Mr. Ben-Gurion’s opponents had a strong moral case against accepting money from the country that had just orchestrated the murder of millions of Jews, but the prime minister thought that his duty as the man in charge of building and defending a new state trumped such considerations. Then, as now, Israel sometimes agreed to help other countries and parties whitewash their images. It’s often a trade: We, Israel, will get what we need in the form of money or arms or political support. You will get the right to showcase Israel as proof that you aren’t an anti-Semite.

This could become much more uncomfortable when the country in question is the United States and when the person accused of tolerating anti-Semitism is the American president. Israel depends on the United States more than it does on any other country for aid, security and diplomatic support. And the American Jewish community is the other main pillar of world Jewry, alongside Israel. More than 80 percent of Jews live and thrive either in Israel or in the United States. This makes the United States the place in which official anti-Semitism cannot be overlooked — and the place where it must be overlooked.

That could result in an irreparable split between Jews. The statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day — provoking Jewish outcry in the United States, while provoking nothing from Israel — just proved it.

Trump Backers Want Ideology Test For Extreme Vetting : NPR

Orwellian and ineffective given that those requesting entry are highly unlikely to openly express such views, if indeed they have them (Kellie Leitch to note):

The Trump administration says it is suspending all refugee admissions to the United States until it can come up with a plan for “extreme vetting.”

So what could that mean?

Refugees are already subjected to multiple interviews and a security vetting by nine U.S. law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies that check their backgrounds, social media activity and the reasons they fled their countries. The process usually takes 18 months or more, according to resettlement agencies.

But some of those who helped form President Trump’s policies on refugees are upfront in saying this is not actually about stricter security screening. It’s about something else.

“It means a kind of ideological screening to keep out people who hate a free society even if they are not violent,” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that supports tighter controls on immigration. Krikorian met with Trump during the campaign and backs the president’s executive order as a “corrective” to the vetting system in place during the Obama years.

In an interview with NPR, Krikorian said he backs an ideological test that poses questions for refugees in the vetting process including, in his words, “Do you think it’s okay to kill apostates? Do you think it’s okay to throw gays off of buildings? Or if Islam’s Prophet Muhammad is insulted, there should be a punishment?”

If a refugee says yes to any of these questions, says Krikorian, “Then we don’t want you here.”

Trump’s executive order on immigration appears to refer to these views by declaring the United States should keep out those with “hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles” and “those who would place violent ideologies over American law.”

This is all of intense concern for refugee advocates. The most pressing refugee need today is among Syrians — some 5 million have fled the country’s civil war. The vast majority are Muslim.

“It’s clearly Muslim-targeted,” says Muna Jondy, a Michigan immigration lawyer of Syrian descent who’s been fielding frantic calls from refugee families in the U.S. whose relatives are now barred from joining them.

She points out the refugee screening process already targets those with extreme Islamist views via counter-terrorism vetting, which checks for links to radical Islamist groups.

But the president appears to echo opinions of a web of supporters who have warned about the wider “dangers” of Islam and more recently have called for rigorous ideological vetting. His national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has called fear of Islam “rational” and equates Islam with a political ideology.

One of the most outspoken of these supporters is Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Policy Studies and a leading anti-immigration advocate. Human rights groups have described Gaffney as a conspiracy theorist and Islamophobe, but his views have gained traction in the Trump administration. Trump cited his work during his campaign.

…In a broad sense, tests of attitudes aren’t unprecedented. Doris Meissner, a former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, notes that an ideological test for newcomers is “deeply embedded” in U.S. history. The U.S. barred anarchists in 1903. During the Cold War, she says, “It was people who believed in communism. It’s still in our law.”

But Meissner points out these ideological tests have not had the desired outcome, because over time, the tests “have proven to be poorly equipped to actually predict what people are going to do.” And it gets more complex when the beliefs straddle the line between politics and religion.

Meissner compares Trump supporters’ fear of sharia law and their view that it’s at odds with the U.S. system with the fears and debates surrounding the candidacy of John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Kennedy was Catholic and his detractors feared that if elected, the American president would be taking orders from the Pope.

“Then, JFK made his well-known statement about his personal faith and his responsibility to the civil system,” Meissner says.

Source: Trump Backers Want Ideology Test For Extreme Vetting : Parallels : NPR

Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making – The New York Times

Yet another test for the institutional checks and balances:

It was at a campaign rally in August that President Trump most fully unveiled the dark vision of an America under siege by “radical Islam” that is now radically reshaping the policies of the United States.

On a stage lined with American flags in Youngstown, Ohio, Mr. Trump, who months before had called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, argued that the United States faced a threat on par with the greatest evils of the 20th century. The Islamic State was brutalizing the Middle East, and Muslim immigrants in the West were killing innocents at nightclubs, offices and churches, he said. Extreme measures were needed.

“The hateful ideology of radical Islam,” he told supporters, must not be “allowed to reside or spread within our own communities.”

Mr. Trump was echoing a strain of anti-Islamic theorizing familiar to anyone who has been immersed in security and counterterrorism debates over the last 20 years. He has embraced a deeply suspicious view of Islam that several of his aides have promoted, notably retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, now his national security adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s top strategist.

This worldview borrows from the “clash of civilizations” thesis of the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, and combines straightforward warnings about extremist violence with broad-brush critiques of Islam. It sometimes conflates terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State with largely nonviolent groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots and, at times, with the 1.7 billion Muslims around the world. In its more extreme forms, this view promotes conspiracies about government infiltration and the danger that Shariah, the legal code of Islam, may take over in the United States.

Those espousing such views present Islam as an inherently hostile ideology whose adherents are enemies of Christianity and Judaism and seek to conquer nonbelievers either by violence or through a sort of stealthy brainwashing.

The executive order on immigration that Mr. Trump signed on Friday might be viewed as the first major victory for this geopolitical school. And a second action, which would designate the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political movement in the Middle East, as a terrorist organization, is now under discussion at the White House, administration officials say.

Beyond the restrictions the order imposed on refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, it declared that the United States should keep out those with “hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles” and “those who would place violent ideologies over American law,” clearly a reference to Shariah.

Rejected by most serious scholars of religion and shunned by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, this dark view of Islam has nonetheless flourished on the fringes of the American right since before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With Mr. Trump’s election, it has now moved to the center of American decision-making on security and law, alarming many Muslims.

Trudeau must match words with action in Trump era, say critics, rights groups

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.”

Source: Trudeau must match words with action in Trump era, say critics, rights groups – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

No plans to change refugee target in wake of U.S. travel ban: immigration minister

Calibrated response:

As MPs debate U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban in the House of Commons, Canada has already confirmed it will not hike its refugee intake target in the wake of a contentious immigration and travel crackdown in the U.S., says Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Under pressure by the NDP, human rights groups and refugee lawyers to bring more asylum-seekers to Canada, the minister said Canada’s plan will not change in response to an executive order by Trump that suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Our immigration levels plan has an allocation that is historically high for refugees,” Hussen said. “We intend to maintain that plan.”

Canada’s 2017 immigration plan is set to accommodate 40,000 refugees.

Hussen also rejected calls to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, a pact which considers asylum-seekers safe in both Canada and the U.S.

“All the parameters of that agreement are in place and there is no change at this time,” he said.

MPs held an emergency debate Tuesday evening, which concluded around midnight, on the U.S. immigration and travel directives,.

Noting that the U.S. has now agreed to allow in 872 refugees who were already screened and in transit, and were previously denied entry, Hussen said that’s a sign the situation is evolving fast. He added that Canada will closely monitor developments.

“The responsible thing to do is to maintain contact, to continue to engage and make sure we monitor the situation closely to make sure we provide information to Canadians,” he said.

Ottawa U.S. Embassy Trump protest travel ban Jan 30 2017

People gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa Monday afternoon to protest an executive order signed by President Donald Trump banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. (CBC)

Call for ‘special measures’

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who requested the emergency debate, held a news conference Tuesday morning urging the government to lift a cap on privately sponsored refugees and to fast-track refugee claims.

The B.C. MP laid out a number of proposed “special measures” ahead of the debate.

“There is no question that this ban promotes hate and intolerance,” she said. “This ban will have a disastrous effect for thousands of innocent travellers and refugees.”

Calling it “absolutely shocking,” Kwan said the Trump travel ban will have a huge negative impact on the economy, as well as cultural and academic development.

…Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel used the debate to launch into an examination of whether Canada was effectively managing its own immigration file.

She questioned whether there was adequate funding to help refugees integrate into Canadian society, and whether it was wise to lift the visa restrictions on Mexicans coming to Canada.

“To respond to the immigration policies of other nations, we must first get our own house in order, and then through those actions, show the world what immigration policy best practice looks like,” Rempel said.