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The Council calls on Trudeau to rescind the Safe Third Country agreement

A #RefugeesWelcome rally in London, September 2015.

The Council of Canadians is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to rescind the Safe Third Country agreement.

We have long opposed this agreement.

In 2005, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote, “The Smart Border Accord includes a Safe Third Country agreement, which requires Canada to turn back refugee claimants who have arrived at our border via the United States. The agreement is ostensibly based on the principle that refugees must claim refuge in the first country they reach as long as that country is ‘safe’ for them. But it is really based on strong pressure from the Bush White House, which views refugees as a security problem, to create a seamless North American refugee system, with the terms and conditions set in Washington.”

At that time Barlow highlighted, “The Safe Third Country agreement violates refugee rights established in Canada twenty years ago. The Supreme Court declared that refugee claimants in Canada are entitled to basic rights, including the right to an oral hearing before being denied entry. Close to twelve thousand refugee claimants a year have passed through the United States to come to Canada in the last few years. In the first six months that the law was in effect, the number of refugee claimants arriving in Canada was about half the average.”

Now twelve years later we have US President Donald J. Trump.

MSN reports, “President Trump on Friday [January 27] closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing Syrian carnage be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries [Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen]. The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ‘to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States’.”

And The Globe and Mail notes, “Experts say Canada could see an increase in the number of Mexican immigrants and refugees as a result of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigration sentiments and a recent Canadian policy change. Mexicans who feel unwelcome in the United States may now be looking a little further north to Canada, where the Liberal government lifted a visa requirement for Mexican travellers just last month. The visa requirement had been in place since 2009 when the Conservatives imposed it after a rise in invalid refugee claims from Mexico.”

No One Is Illegal says, “We demand that Trudeau repeal the ‘Safe Third Country’ agreement in order to allow people fleeing violence and deportation in the US to seek safety and protection in Canada. Trump’s deportations could start any minute — and with real people’s lives on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s our ethical responsibility to act, and it cannot wait.”

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Trudeau is scheduled to meet with Trump in the White House in late-February.

The Council of Canadians calls on the prime minister to rescind the Safe Country Agreement and outline how his government will address the implications of Trump’s immigration policies.