Canadian Council for Refugees
For immediate release
2 August 2019
CCR joins protests against North America’s withdrawal from refugee protection
The Canadian Council for Refugees expressed alarm today at North America’s increasing withdrawal from refugee protection, at a time when the refugee crisis worldwide needs leadership and contributions from the wealthiest countries. Particularly in the USA, but also in Canada, doors are closing on refugees, whether they attempt to make a refugee claim in the country or seek protection through resettlement.
“Canadians have followed with horror the scenes of children and adults in immigration detention in US,” said Claire Roque, CCR President. “It is less well-known that the US recently introduced a new rule barring refugee claims from people who passed through another country. This is very similar to a rule adopted this summer by Canada – the two countries are unfortunately on a shared path to shake off their responsibilities towards people in need of asylum.”
The CCR is part of a legal challenge of the designation of the United States as a safe third country for refugees: the Federal Court will hear the case this November.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the US government is considering reducing to zero the number of refugees resettled next year. The average yearly number of refugees resettled to the US is 95,000, although this has already been reduced to 30,000 under the Trump administration. The impact of eliminating these resettlement places is devastating for refugees around the world.
Canada disappointingly has reverted to low resettlement numbers after the Syrian movement in 2015-2016 – just 9,300 Government Assisted Refugees in 2019. The CCR continues to call for a target of 20,000 Government Assisted Refugees annually.
The CCR underlines that these regional trends take place in the context of pronounced racism and xenophobia, and Canada is not immune to these problems.
The CCR expresses solidarity with the many in the US who are mobilizing to fight back against the illegal and immoral refugee and asylum bans, including through a country-wide day of action, Rise for Refuge, on August 3 (https://www.weareallusa.org/riseforrefuge).
The CCR calls:
- On Canada to show leadership internationally in promoting resettlement, including by setting a target of 20,000 Government Assisted Refugees as a model to other countries. (There is a particular opportunity and responsibility for leadership, as Canada is chairing the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement this year)
- On Canadians to voice support for refugees, recognizing that welcoming and protecting refugees both saves lives and makes Canada a better place. Join our Refugees Welcome Campaign https://www.refugees-welcome.ca/. As we enter the election season, this is an important moment to challenge anti-refugee sentiment.
- On Canada to withdraw from the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. Given what is happening in the USA, it is clearer than ever that we cannot in good conscience say that the US is safe for refugees.
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Janet Dench, 514-277-7223, ext.2, 514-602-2098 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org