CCLA calls for concrete action from Canadian government on U.S. travel ban

January 29, 2017

STATEMENT FROM THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION

REGARDING IMPACT IN CANADA ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
OF THE JAN. 27 UNITED STATES EXECUTIVE ORDER (“PROTECTING THE NATION FROM TERRORIST ATTACKS BY FOREIGN NATIONALS”)

TORONTO — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association deplores the Executive Order (“Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”) issued by United States President Donald Trump on Jan. 27, 2017, because of its impact on permanent residents, dual citizens, U.S. green card holders, and refugees fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in Canada.

We commend our political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and those provincial and municipal leaders, who reiterated that Canada’s doors are open to individuals fleeing persecution, terror, and war.

Refugees are individuals fleeing persecution who have no state to protect them, and Canada has undertaken binding legal obligations both in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Although a number of U.S. courts granted stays to temporarily prevent deportations (although not detentions) under the Executive Order, the fight is not over yet. 

Going forward, CCLA’s concerns focus on identifying and implementing concrete steps to protect Canadian dual citizens, permanent residents, refugees and asylum seekers.

CCLA calls on Canada to take the following steps to honour its constitutional, legal and international law obligations immediately:

  1. Suspend 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.

 

CONTACT:

Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel

pillay@ccla.org

 

This release was updated at 4:45 pm