Expand Canada’s Intake of Refugees from Northern Central America

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Canada has a proud history of accepting and integrating refugees into the fabric of our society.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015, he promised Canadians that he would restore basic compassion to our immigration system. He recently echoed this sentiment on World Refugee Day (June 20, 2019), when he tweeted,

On #WorldRefugeeDay we stand with people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes and recognize their courage in the face of profound hardship. It’s up to us to show them compassion, openness, and ultimately build a better world.” We share the Prime Minister’s commitment.

In light of this statement and Canada’s proud history, we are writing to draw attention to the fact that the Government of Canada has so far been a silent bystander as innocent people, including far too many children, have died on the quest for asylum fleeing the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

We know of six children who have died in U.S custody in the last year. A two-year-old child, Angie Valeria Martínez Ramírez, and her father Óscar Martínez Ramírez tragically drowned in the Rio Grande only six days after World Refugee Day, when the Prime Minister expressed his commitment.

The region faces the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis driven by alarming rates of homicide, repression, sexual and gender-based violence, and persecution. In 2018, the number of people fleeing these countries increased by 30%, with more than 311,000 people seeking asylum.

As engaged and concerned Canadians, we view the inaction of our Government as a problem that can be overcome by its cooperation with Canadian settlement organizations, civil society, the Latin American Community, and everyday Canadians. Multiple resettlement mechanisms are already in place: the Government Assisted Refugee Program, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program, the Protected Transfer Arrangement, and complementary humanitarian pathways are all tools that can be used to save the lives of vulnerable people fleeing these three countries. Canada can and must do more to help.

Northern Central America experienced destabilization of the region in the 1970s and '80s. Canada provided asylum. The community that arrived as refugees then, has been contributing to Canadian society for decades, and now it’s ready to help a new generation of Northern Central Americans who need Canada to open its doors to them. The coming together of Canadians in 2015 for refugees from Syria showed us that we can help. It’s time to come together again.

We are asking the Canadian Government to expand its intake of asylum seekers from Northern Central America. Sign our petition and stand with us in helping to provide these asylum-seekers with basic compassion and the right to exist with dignity.