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Goodale should reject Safe Third Country agreement before Homeland Security meeting

Goodale, Kelly

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he won’t be raising the Canada-US Safe Third Country agreement when he meets with US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly in the coming days.

On Saturday, CBC reported, “Goodale says he’ll be discussing the growing issue of asylum seekers sneaking across the border with senior officials in the United States in the coming days. Goodale, who oversees the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, said the government is already in communication with some U.S. authorities about the impact unannounced asylum seekers are having on the Canadian refugee system. What is unlikely to be raised in those talks, however, is the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S.”

Goodale says, “The terms of the agreement are what they are. The fact of the matter is we have to deal with the real life circumstances that we are facing. We’ve also had confirmation from the UN High Commission for Refugees that they do not see a basis in the United States for any deviation from the agreement.”

And yet earlier this month, The Guardian reported, “The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 national guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants …The memo [was] written by the US homeland security secretary, John Kelly, a retired four-star marine general.”

Kelly also defends the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump on January 28 that bans people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for a 90 day period. Refugees were banned for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

The Homeland Security secretary says, “This is not, I repeat, not a ban on Muslims. The Homeland Security mission is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, our values — and religious liberty is one of our most fundamental and treasured values. It is important to understand that there are terrorists and other bad actors that are seeking to infiltrate our homeland every single day.”

Within the US, Al Jazeera has reported, “The number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the US has nearly tripled since Trump launched his presidential election campaign in 2015. The Southern Poverty Law Center [also] documented nearly 900 hate incidents within the 10 days after Trump’s election on November 8, but noted it was ‘almost certainly a small fraction of the actual number’ because of under-reporting. Many of the perpetrators invoked the president-elect’s name during the incidents, indicating the surge was linked or motivated by his electoral win, the report said.”

And yet, Goodale maintains that the United States is a safe country.

He is also seemingly ignoring an open letter from more than 200 law professors from across this country that says Trump’s travel ban is “inconsistent with the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and many other international human rights instruments.”

Instead of taking immediate action to rescind the Safe Third Country agreement, Goodale will be in Washington to provide information to Homeland Security, though to what end he does not explain.

Goodale says, “This flow [of refugees crossing the Canadian border] is originating in their country and they need to be fully apprised of the consequences that we’re dealing with on our side of the border. We’re obviously explaining to them what we’re dealing with … and making that sure they understand what’s happening on their side of the border to fill in any information gaps.”

To tell the Trudeau government to immediately rescind the Safe Third Country agreement, please go to our online action alert here.