29 January 2017
Responding to US anti-refugee, anti-Muslim measures:
CCR calls on Canada to increase refugee resettlement and withdraw from Safe Third Country Agreement
In the wake of the January 27 Executive Order signed by the US President, the Canadian Council for Refugees urges Canadians and the Canadian government to redouble their efforts to welcome refugees and to reject all discrimination against Muslims.
The Order temporarily halts all resettlement of refugees to the US, and halves the number of refugees to be resettled in the current year, bars Syrian refugees and discriminates against refugees of Muslim faith or background. The Order also imposes a temporary ban on the admission of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The loss of US leadership on refugee protection will be devastating to refugees globally. This makes Canada’s leadership role more important than ever. While Canada cannot hope to fill the vacuum left by the US, we should certainly do what we can.
In particular, the CCR calls on the Canadian government to respond to the US cuts by increasing Canada’s refugee resettlement targets and by opening the door to more refugee sponsorship applications. The government is planning to bring just 7,500 Government Assisted Refugees and 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees in 2017.
Recent measures have significantly limited Canadian sponsors’ ability to apply to sponsor refugees. These measures include suspension of Quebec’s sponsorship program, a lower than expected cap for Sponsorship Agreement Holders, and limitations for Groups of Five regarding which refugees they can sponsor.
We also urge the Canadian government to offer to resettle, on an emergency basis, all refugees who were approved for resettlement to the US but are now denied entry to the US, over and above Canada’s refugee resettlement targets for 2017.
CCR also calls on the Canadian government to withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, which closes the door to most refugee claimants applying at Canada’s land border. The US was never safe for all refugees, and is now even less safe. Withdrawing from the Agreement would mean that those needing Canada’s protection could apply in an orderly way at the border, rather than being forced, as now, to cross the border irregularly, putting themselves at physical danger and promoting opportunities for smugglers.
Canadians who are looking for ways to resist Trump’s measures are encouraged to show solidarity with people of all faiths and to support local organizations who work with refugee claimants. These organizations (which receive little or no government funding) are serving increasing numbers of refugee claimants, many of whom have arrived via the US.