Expansion of border pact with U.S. is impractical, inhumane, and illegal

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In anticipation of International Refugee Day and to observe the 40th anniversary of the refugee sponsorship movement in Canada, Amnesty International Quinte and Quinte Immigration Services invite you to a screening of the film “Inside my Heart” (2018).  This film delivers a vital reminder about the humans who have been swept up in the global crisis which involves more than 68 million refugees.   Join us on Wednesday, May 15 at 1 p.m. at the Belleville Public Library.   This is a free event–all are welcome.  We are asking those interested in attending to RSVP to the QUIS office at 613-968-7723.  

Minister of Border Security Bill Blair’s proposal to widen the reach of the Safe Third Country Agreement would drive refugee claimants underground and violate Canada’s human rights obligations

Image result for Minister of Border Security Bill Blair’s proposal to widen the reach of the Safe Third Country Agreement would drive refugee claimants underground and violate Canada’s human rights obligations
Expansion of border pact with U.S. is impractical, inhumane, and illegal | Ricochet

Minister of Border Security Bill Blair is seeking to expand the Safe Third Country Agreement and apply it to refugee claimants already in Canada, with the result that more asylum seekers will be returned to the United States. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced that Budget 2019 will allocate new funds of over a billion dollars for this purpose, mischaracterizing those seeking refugee protection as wanting to “exploit Canada’s immigration system.”

Two major newspapers have since published editorials praising the move, noting that the proposal — which would see the RCMP apprehend and transport refugee claimants to the nearest port of entry to be removed — is a “logical and obvious solution.”

We think the proper descriptors are “illogical” and “illegal.”

This is the system to which Minister Blair hopes to remove claimants under the Safe Third Country Agreement .

The Safe Third Country Agreement bars migrants who enter Canada at official ports of entry from the U.S. from making refugee claims, with some exceptions. The premise of the agreement is that the U.S. and Canada are equivalent options for refugees, with both providing fair hearings and due process. Categorizing the U.S. as a safe country, however, is inaccurate.

The U.S. is a hostile environment for refugees. Asylum claimants often don’t have access to counsel, are prevented from making a claim if they wait more than one year after entry, and are kept in detention while their claims are assessed. Since 2016, the Trump administration has implemented the Muslim ban, closed the door on asylum claims based on domestic violence and gang violence, kept migrant children in cages, housed migrants in tent cities, and separated children from parents.

This is the system to which Minister Blair hopes to remove claimants under the Safe Third Country Agreement by apprehending those who present themselves at irregular border crossings and forcibly transporting them to official ports of entry. Already, the agreement causes harm. In Manitoba, there were multiple reports of serious frostbite in 2016, and in 2017 the body of Mavis Otuteye was found just south of our border. If the agreement is expanded to refugee claimants already inside Canada, people might take more dangerous routes into the country, placing this vulnerable population in an even more precarious situation. MORE

 

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