Refugees Welcome: No to Bill C-97! No to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement!

BTS Maritimes Coordinator Stacey Gomez speaking to MP Andy Fillmore on Bill C-97 (May 11, 2019)

BTS Maritimes Coordinator Stacey Gomez speaking to MP Andy Fillmore on Bill C-97 (May 11, 2019)

To Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax:

We are writing to express our concern and opposition to attempts by the Liberal government to expand the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, and measures included in the budget implementation bill, Bill C-97 (Division 16 of Part 4), which propose to amend the Immigration and Refugee Act. We urge you to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to halt these proposed changes, which would be harmful to refugee and migrant rights in Canada.

Civil society groups and organizations, as well as Canadians throughout the country have long called on the Canadian government to end the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which closes the door on most refugee claimants at the border. For years, we’ve been saying that the U.S. is not a safe country for refugees, and that the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement violates refugee rights.

Threats faced by asylum seekers and migrants to the U.S. have only escalated under the administration of Donald Trump. This includes policies separating and detaining refugee families, prohibiting refugees and migrants from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., removing protected status for refugees from various communities (ie. Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, Nicaragua), as well as systemic abuse and state-sanctioned violence against refugees and migrants.

Currently, the agreement only applies at official Ports of Entry along the border. We oppose the Liberal government’s move towards expanding the agreement, which would block refugee claims from asylum seekers who cross the border between official Ports of Entry as well.

We also oppose proposed measures in Bill C-97, which target those seeking refugee protection in Canada and violate refugee rights. This includes preventing asylum seekers who’ve previously filed a refugee claim in the U.S., the U.K., Australia or New Zealand from making a refugee claim in Canada – even if they have never had a hearing in these countries! If Bill C-97 were to pass, claimants who are deemed ineligible based on this criteria would not have a right to a hearing, violating the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1985 Singh decision.

In addition, this bill would unjustly force people who have asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of their rejected applications to wait one year after they receive a final decision before making other applications to remain, including for Permanent Residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment.

These changes would place many people at increased risk of being sent back to face persecution, in violation of their Charter Rights and Canada’s international human rights obligations. These changes would also lead to increased vulnerability for people who are deemed ineligible, including lack of access to essential services. People from racialized communities would be particularly impacted, as well as asylum-seekers impacted by Trump’s anti-refugee policies, forced to seek refuge in Canada. We must not turn our backs on them.

The lack of transparency with which the Liberal government has sought to push these major changes forward is deeply concerning. This includes burying drastic changes to the refugee determination system in a 392 page budget bill, which shield them from the parliamentary scrutiny and debate they merit, and prevent them from being discussed transparently.

In summary, we urge you to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to scrap, rather than expand, the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and to withdraw proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Act in Bill C-97. Will you commit to doing this?

We urge you to stand up for justice and to say no to the racism and xenophobia which these proposed changes represent.

Signed by:

Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia

Council of Canadians

Educators for Social Justice Nova Scotia

Fight for $15 Nova Scotia

Food Against Facism Halifax

Halifax Refugee Clinic

Industrial Workers of the World K’jipuktuk – Halifax

No one is illegal – Halifax

Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group

KAIROS Halifax

Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network – Halifax Committee

Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia

Solidarity Halifax

TAKE ACTION TO STOP THESE ATTACKS ON REFUGEE RIGHTS:

Call / write / tweet / fax your MP. Find their info here: http://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/constituencies/FindMP

Call / cc / tag / fax Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen:
Phone: 613-995-0777 + 613-954-1064 + 416-656-2526
Email: Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca + minister@cic.gc.ca
Tweet: @HonAhmedHussen
Fax: 613-992-2949

Also, call / cc / tag / fax PM Trudeau:
Phone: 613-992-4211
Email: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Tweet: @JustinTrudeau
Fax: 613-941-6900

Feel free to use the letter above as a template!

If you add a photo, you can tag more people, like your MP, Immigration Minister and friends!

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