Friday, August 05, 2005

We should be opening the front door 

The Canadian Council for Refugees has released its report on the "third country" agreement -- Closing the Front Door on Refugees: Report on the Safe Third Country Agreement (pdf) -- and the news is not good.
It was this agreement, I think, which forced Dr. Shazia Khalid to seek assylum in England rather than here -- a story I wrote about a few days ago.
The Council describes a number of problems with the system:
With the Canadian border largely closed, far fewer refugees are able to find protection in Canada: instead, some are detained and deported from the US; some are forced to live without status in the US, in fear of arrest; some turn to smugglers to help them find a way to safety. "It is no exaggeration to describe this Agreement as a silent killer," said Nick Summers, CCR President. "Out of sight of Canadians, asylum seekers are paying the price of Canada's 'Not in My Backyard' approach to refugee protection. The fact is that the US is not safe for all refugees and Canada is failing refugees who need our protection. We call on the Canadian Government to cancel the Agreement immediately." The report shows that the number of people who claimed refuge in Canada in 2005 is lower than at any time since the mid-1980s. The drop in claims made at the border is especially dramatic, with only 50% as many claims as last year. Colombians have been particularly badly affected, with claims down by 70% in 2005. Based on the much lower acceptance rates for Colombians in the US compared to Canada, the report calculates that in the first year of the Agreement alone, 916 Colombians will be left without protection in either country. The report also highlights anecdotal evidence that, as predicted, the Agreement is leading to an increase in smuggling at the US-Canada border.
Folks, Canada NEEDS these people.
As I have often said before, we need lots of young, eager, willing workers to pay the taxes that will cover the costs of mine and my husband's health care and pensions when we get old -- my own children certainly can't do it all by themselves.
But seriously, Canada shouldn't be creating an underground, secret economy, as the US has done, where people are exploited and brutalized because they have no hope of ever legalizing their status. Canada needs immigrants more than the US does. We need their energy and their ideas and their commitment and their heart. We need their willingness to work hard and create a life for themselves and their children. This country was built on the imagination and creativity of immigrants. So I say bring 'em on, the more the merrier.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me . . .

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