THE CCLA IS STANDING UP FOR THE RIGHTS OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS IN CANADA AFFECTED BY THE THE US TRAVEL BAN
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THE CCLA IS TAKING ACTION TO SUPPORT THOSE AFFECTED BY THE RECENT US IMMIGRATION AND TRAVEL BAN
The CCLA has a long history of protecting the rights of immigrants and refugees and the recent travel and immigration ban taking place at US borders will be no exception. CCLA has organized rapidly, responding to the recent executive order signed by U.S. President Trump, which affects immigrants and refugees from seven countries: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. We have taken concrete action, coordinated with our U.S. counterparts and Canadian colleagues.
WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR
- The CCLA was one of the first organizations in Canada to release a comprehensive statement and series of demands in opposition to the US travel and immigration ban.
- We ran full-page ads featuring that statement in both the Globe and Mail and the National Post to make sure every politician in Canada knew exactly where we stood.
- These demands were the subject of extensive discussion during the emergency debate in Parliament on January 30th regarding the US travel ban. The CCLA continues to put pressure on the Trudeau government to take concrete action.
- The statement has received major attention both on social media and in the news—it has been referenced in countless newspaper articles and television broadcasts since it was published on January 29th.
- We have joined with The Refugee Hub, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, dedicated groups of lawyers and law students who have self-organized across Canada and leaders in the Canadian legal community to form the Canadian Cross-Border Legal Coalition to provide legal support to those affected by the ban at airports in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal.
- Our Executive Director Sukanya Pillay authored two major op-eds in the past week focused on the travel ban, including one which also addresses broader issues of Islamophobia and racism in Canada:
- Pillay: Canada shouldn’t assume U.S. is a safe third country for refugees, Ottawa Citizen
- Canada cannot shy away from its history of Islamophobia and prejudice, TVO
- See also a recent op-ed calling to ensure Canada is not complicit in torture following comments made by the US President: Pillay: In the age of Trump, Trudeau must ensure Canada is not complicit in torture, Ottawa Citizen
- The CCLA has been a leader in communicating with the media about what this travel ban means and what Parliament should do in response. See for example interviews featured in:
- Canadian lawyers have important role following Trump immigration order, Canadian Lawyer Magazine
- Canada to offer temporary residency to travellers stranded by U.S., Global News
- We produced a series of campaign resources, including a template letter, script for phoning your member of Parliament, and an intake resource for lawyers working in Canadian airports. These resources have supported the important work of many independent groups organizing to support immigrants and refugees within their own communities. See for example:
CCLA calls on Canada to take the following steps to honour its constitutional, legal and international law obligations immediately:
- Suspend enforcing the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The CCLA does not consider the US at this current time to be a ‘safe third country’ within the meaning of the agreement.
- Put in place procedures to process applications from asylum seekers affected by the ban, who wish to seek refuge in Canada. Refugees and refugee applicants from countries affected by the Executive Order, including those currently in the United States, are extremely vulnerable. Canada can and should protect them.
- Increase the number of refugees accepted by Canada in 2017, in to accommodate individuals from those countries currently affected by the U.S. ban: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Canada must, without delay, raise or eliminate the cap recently imposed on privately-sponsored refugees from Iraq and Syria, and reinstate the policy allowing individuals from those countries to be considered for sponsorship without a UNHCR refugee certificate or equivalent.
- Ensure that Canadian airlines and other commercial enterprises do not collude with a foreign domestic order — and refuse boarding passes to immigrants, dual citizens, refugees and asylum seekers — that discriminates on the basis of country of origin, ethnic origin, or religious belief. Doing so violates Canada’s legal obligations set out in Canada’s constitution, domestic laws, and international law binding upon Canada. Commercial enterprise cannot be a justification to engage in violation of law and humanitarian commitments.
- Ensure clear guidelines are provided by Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all consular officials to assist any Canadians from the U.S. ban-listed countries who are overseas and find themselves stranded, detained, or otherwise prevented from returning to Canada. These guidelines must comply with the recommendations of The Federal Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar and the Internal Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. Canada must provide emergency consular assistance to any dual citizens who have experienced difficulties as a result of the ban.
- Canada must immediately review the impact of our information sharing agreements with the United States, including, but not limited to theSecurity Canada Information Sharing Act introduced by Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015); the information sharing agreements pursuant to the Canada-U.S. Security Perimeter Agreement; and the particular impact of Canadian national security agencies including the Canadian Border Security Agency sharing information with U.S. agencies. Canada cannot enable discrimination based on country of origin, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. Canada must ensure that innocent persons are not put at risk by information provided by Canada. Canada must use this opportunity to set clear limits on information shared with the United States.
- Canada must immediately review the implementation of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which has been used on several occasions by Canadian companies to unlawfully discriminate against individuals lawfully in Canada on the basis of their country of origin or contacts to a foreign country (for example, for example in (Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunessev. Bombardier Aerospace Training Center); and
- Provide immediate assistance for any individuals who may be stranded at Canadian airports, bus, and train stations as a result of the ban, including those who anticipate being denied entry on arrival to the United States and those who have been turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance.
The CCLA offers its full and unequivocal support for the rights of refugees, immigrants, and dual citizens. If you know of anyone affected by the U.S. Executive Order in Canada, call us so we can help. Where necessary we are able to enlist the aid of our network of top-notch pro bono lawyers and/or provide referrals to legal resources.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
VOLUNTEER LAWYERS AND LAW STUDENTS
Canadian lawyers and law students have been working tirelessly at Canadian borders to support those affected by the travel ban and to troubleshoot difficult issues as they arise. The CCLA is a part of the Canadian Cross-Border Coalition and is helping to lead and coordinate these efforts. If you are a lawyer and would like to get involved—contact the CCLA or the Coalition to be connected with ways to help in your area.
Canadian law students from across the country have organized a research-a-thon in collaboration with the Canadian Council for Refugees, creating documentation to support an eventual legal challenge to the Safe Third Country agreement. (See coverage here, here and here for example). Join them in their efforts!
Almost 250 law professors have sent a powerful letter to the Canadian government asking for the suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement (see coverage here). If you’re a Canadian law professor, add your name. If you have former students working on Parliament Hill, write to them personally about your concerns too.
If you are a lawyer and want to volunteer to provide airport support, please get in touch.
You can organize your own demonstration, call-in or letter writing event in order to put pressure on your Member of Parliament to take action — you can use the resources produced by the CCLA as your guide.
It’s easy to organize a “call-in” event or even circulate an email to your friends and family asking them to phone their MP (check out this group featured in the Toronto Star or these students who set up a table on campus to write letters).
Citizens have already organized powerful public protests and gatherings in solidarity with those affected by the travel and immigration ban (see this one for example). If you organize a public demonstration, make sure to check out CCLA’s guide to protesting here.
You can organize your industry too—get in touch with the CCLA if you need help and feel free to use these resources.
If you represent a Canadian company that is struggling to respond to the US travel ban, the CCLA’s statement encourages you not to unquestioningly follow the foreign executive order.
efforts across canada
The following organizations and coalitions are also working in Canada to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees in response to the United States immigration and travel ban.
- Amnesty International Canada (open letter and action alert)
- British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (press release)
- Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (press release and call for action)
- Canadian Cross-Border Coalition (including some of these organizations)
- Canadian Union of Public Employees (statement)
- Canadian Council for Refugees (press release, backgrounder and call for action)
- No One Is Illegal — Toronto (petition)
If you work with an organization that would like to collaborate on this campaign or be added to this list, please email us!