Tough-on-refugees policy reflects badly on Canada
The human rights of refugees in Canada are under siege. The immigration minister is moving towards new legislation regarding refugees. His recent actions suggest this will make things worse, not better.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has made it clear that one of his highest priorities is to keep refugees as far away from Canada as possible. Minister Kenney has introduced visa requirements for citizens of Mexico, one of our closest trading partners. At the very time that we are negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union, he has done the same for citizens of the Czech Republic. All in the name of keeping refugee claimants at a distance.
The minister has attempted to defend these actions, and to justify his upcoming new law, by decrying abuse of Canada’s generosity. He has ratcheted up invective against refugees, and has jeopardized the institutional independence of the Immigration and Refugee Board by identifying claimants from particular countries as “bogus.”
Kenney misunderstands refugee realities and refugee law. In blatant disregard of international law he insists that those who arrive without prior authorization are here illegally. Despite the absence of any possible “queue” to join, he calls asylum seekers “queue jumpers.” The real refugees, we are told, are not to be found in Canada. They are somewhere else, waiting their turn. If his errors are incorporated in his planned amendments, Canada will fall short of its international legal obligations. His comments have already misled the public and fanned the embers of prejudice.
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