On Friday, January 27th US President Trump signed an Executive Order that temporarily halts all resettlement of refugees to the US, halves the number of refugees to be resettled in the current year, and bars Syrian refugees and discriminates against refugees of Muslim faith or background. The Order also imposes a temporary ban on the admission of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Over the past year, United Church people have welcomed thousands of refugees into their communities. As people of faith, the church continues to ask and respond in this time and place to Jesus’ question: “And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you?” (Matthew 25).
There are positive, immediate steps Canada can take to respond to this crisis, but our government will need to hear that message from us. Please contact your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Refugees, Citizenship, and Immigration. (Contact info below). Include your own thoughts, and whichever of the points below you feel you can support.
We call on the Canadian government to respond by:
- Increasing Canada’s refugee resettlement targets and by opening the door to more refugee sponsorship applications. The government is planning to bring just 7,500 Government Assisted Refugees and 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees in 2017. We can do more; our churches and communities have already proven that.
- Offering to resettle, on an emergency basis, all refugees who were approved for resettlement to the US but are now denied entry to the US, over and above Canada’s refugee resettlement targets for 2017.
- Withdrawing from the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, which closes the door to most refugee claimants applying at Canada’s land border. This Agreement, signed in 2004 over major protest from Canadian civil society and faith communities, disallows a majority of refugees in, or traveling through, the US to make a refugee claim in Canada. Why? On the grounds that the US is safe for refugees.
But the decisions taken by President Trump over the past weekend demonstrate anew what has always been the case: the United States is not automatically a safe place for refugees. Withdrawing from the Agreement would mean that those needing Canada’s protection could apply in an orderly way at the border, rather than being forced, as now, to cross the border irregularly, putting themselves at physical danger (as we’ve already seen in Manitoba) and promoting opportunities for smugglers. See this joint Canadian and American open letter from Amnesty International for a fuller explanation. See also more information from the Canadian Council for Refugees here. (The United Church is a member of the Council.)
Write to your Member of Parliament or call your MP’s office; since you will likely have to leave a message, prepare a short script for yourself if you choose this option, and be sure to leave a phone number and the name of your community.
Find your Member of Parliament by postal code.
Search by name; this service gives you full phone, email, and mailing information for your Member of Parliament.
To contact Minister Ahmed Hussen:
Mail: The Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen MP
365 Laurier Avenue West
Please CC your responses to Christie Neufeldt, Program Coordinator: Church in Mission firstname.lastname@example.org