Step Up, Canada! Provide Refugee Protection for Central American Migrants
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Many people around the world have been angered over Trump's Separation Act (the now rescinded act separating migrant children from their parents), the USA federal government "losing" thousands of immigrant children, and recent attempts by Trump to deport migrants without trial or access to the courts. Many of us in Canada look on in horror, yet we fail to do anything to change this.
Due to Canada's accordance in the Safe Third Country Agreement, migrants can only request refugee protection in the first "safe country" that they arrive in. Obviously, this means that most people heading north from Central and South America first arrive in the USA before Canada. However, in light of the way the USA has been treating these refugees, it is questionable whether the USA can even be considered a "safe country." Clearly it is not safe for families being ripped apart, and it is against human rights laws for migrants to be deported without a court case. This is not even considering extreme temperatures, starvation etc. in holding cells if they are granted a trail. With these conditions, the USA cannot be considered a "safe country" for Central American migrants. Migrants who are often fleeing poverty, gang violence and state violence, some of which has roots in US intervention in Central American governments.
Last year, the UNHCR asked Canada for $37 million dollars to help Central Americans in their home countries (shelters, safe spaces etc.) and the Canadian government has only given about 20% of this. The Canadian government needs to offer places for Central Americans who want to come to Canada. Canada is one of the most difficult countries in the world for refugees to stream in over land borders; thus we must become a country that allows more people to make their home here. If we are a country that prides ourselves for a relatively peaceful society, we must be willing to share that space with those who also want peace.
We need to petition Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement to make it easier for Central Americans to make their way to Canada. This alone is not enough. We need to give aid money to the UNHCR and other organizations working for peace in Central America and make it much easier for Central American refugees come live in Canada. If there is anything that I can do to help in this situation, please let me, and all Canadians, know. It is essential that we do not stand back and watch Donald Trump continue to devastate the lives of refugees - people who have already given up so much for their journey. Because Canada is doing no better than the United States and we need to change that.
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