Some Canadians love to tell the legend that the night of the Trump victory the Canadian immigration website crashed under the weight of “progressives” seeking to flee a country engulfed in archconservative flames. These are the same people who, in response to whatever bigoted Trump gaffe happened during the long US election, gleefully dispensed the #MeanwhileInCanada meme of Prime Minister Trudeau high-fiving Mayor Gregor Robertson at a corporate Pride parade. Rather than fight the pernicious currents of colonial violence, white supremacy, corporate austerity, misogyny, and heteronormativity that run in the mainstream of both the USA and Canada, this approach covers up and denies the need to battle hatred and capitalist power right here in Canada.
On January 27, 2017, as President Trump announced concrete plans for far reaching reforms to US immigration, refugee, and citizenship policies that will have devastating impacts on racialized migrant communities, No One Is Illegal Toronto showed a different way to resist. Rather than spreading anti-Trump disdain to cover over Canadian style anti-immigrant ideas and border control mechanisms, NOII-Toronto is mobilizing to undermine the power of “fortress North America” that Canada will be complicit in increasing if Trudeau does not change Canada’s refugee policies in the context of Trump’s reforms.
The piece of refugee policy central to this problem is Canada’s “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the United States. This legislation was passed in December 2002, when Canada and the US were still riding the post-911 wave of tightening border restrictions and creating a “fortress North America.” This legislation effectively synchs Canada’s refugee acceptance policies to the United States. Any prospective refugee claimant who lands in the United States first must make their refugee claim in the United States and is thereby disqualified from applying for refugee status in Canada (and vice versa).
In the year 2002, when Canada made this agreement, the US accepted only 27,000 refugees, the lowest number in 30 years. Then President George W. Bush launched Operation Liberty Shield, a military project specifically oriented to stopping the entry of hopeful asylum seekers and detaining and deporting all those already on American soil. The Department of Homeland Security started mandatory registration for Pakistani Muslims, effectively pushing an estimated 3,000 Pakistanis to the Canadian border to claim refugee status here.
Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien responded to George W. Bush’s mass attack on refugees racialized Muslim by drafting the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. In a comparable moment 15 years ago, a Liberal federal government effectively blocked those chased out of the US by a racist, war mongering administration by creating technical, legal grounds, not overt racist grounds. Today’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not need to invent these legal technologies because he has inherited them from the beginning of the war on terror.
Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement is a perfect example of distinctly Canadian racism. It diverts blame to the United States, maintaining the smugness of the #MeanwhileInCanada meme without disrupting border enforcement. NOII-Toronto’s demand for Trudeau to sever Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States challenges both problems – it challenges Canada’s own national-border racism while undermining Trump’s 2017 fortress North America.
Sign and pass on the petition through the link here, and find the full petition text from NOII below: https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/tell-trudeau-welcome-those-fleeing-violence-and-deportation-under-trump
Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump
By No One Is Illegal – Toronto
Don’t turn away asylum seekers fleeing violence and deportation from Trump’s America. We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Hussen to immediately rescind the “Safe Third Country Agreement”, and that immediate steps be taken to allow special consideration of humanitarian and compassionate reasons for entry to Canada as enabled by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Trump’s deportations could start any minute — and with real people’s lives on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s our ethical responsibility to act, and it cannot wait.
Why is this important?
After just a few days in office, President Trump is already beginning to implement his racist, anti-immigrant agenda. He’s about to launch a major effort to hunt down and deport millions of undocumented people and asylum seekers in the US. Many went to the US to escape violence, and they could be persecuted or killed if they’re sent back to their countries of origin.
Shockingly, if an asylum seeker currently in the US showed up at the Canadian border trying to escape deportation to an unsafe country — Canada would turn them away.
Canada doesn’t accept any asylum seekers who come to Canada via the US, because of an outdated law called the “Safe Third Country Agreement”. This law prevents most people fleeing violence or persecution from seeking refuge in Canada if they land in the US — deemed a “safe country” under the law — first.
Except remaining in Trump’s America is unsafe — particularly for poor and racialized people. For many people, deportation may also be a death sentence. The Safe Third Country Agreement is the reason refugees put their lives at risk trying to cross the US-Canada border secretly rather than going through official channels. Some people have lost fingers and toes to frostbite – just narrowly escaping death – by making this trek across the border in subzero winter temperatures.
We demand that Trudeau repeal the “Safe Third Country” agreement in order to allow people fleeing violence and deportation in the US to seek safety and protection in Canada. Trump’s deportations could start any minute — and with real people’s lives on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s our ethical responsibility to act, and it cannot wait.
Sign the petition now to demand that Trudeau rescind the exclusionary “Safe Third Country” agreement.
Deportations are just one part of Trump’s racist immigration policies. In one day alone, he started the construction of US-Mexican border wall and committed to defund ‘Sanctuary Cities’ which protect undocumented people from deportation. He also tripled the number of immigration enforcement officers in an effort to ramp up deportations, and has either restricted or outright banned immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
This is just a part of the larger fight for migrant justice. Immigrants on both sides of the border are routinely denied immigration status, forced into precarious work, and denied access to essential services. Stay tuned for upcoming actions to make our communities safe for all people, regardless of immigration status.
Visit http://www.nooneisillegal.org to learn more and join our movement.
Find the petition to sign and circulate here: https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/tell-trudeau-welcome-those-fleeing-violence-and-deportation-under-trump