Followup on Take Action for Refugees

In February, the Local-Global Advocacy network posted an action asking you to write to the federal government asking for: a review of the Safe Third Country Agreement; and an increase in the number of refugees Canada will accept in 2017. Unfortunately, that action is sill current. Please see the post of February 1, 2017 below for those details.

Asylum seekers continue to cross the US border on foot at Emerson, MB even in the midst of winter storms. Manitoba-NW Ontario Conference notes that a refugee coalition has now formed in Winnipeg, and support is being offered to both Emerson and the refugees arriving there.

Why are so many making this very risky journey? In part because the Safe Third Country Agreement between the US and Canada means that claiming refugee status in Canada after travelling through the US is illegal, unless (ironically) one crosses our border “illegally”.

The Canadian Council for Refugees has written an excellent piece answering common questions and explaining the situation in more detail.

When this agreement was put in place in 2004, The United Church of Canada, KAIROS, and many others protested it strongly. They noted that such an agreement violates Canada’s international commitments under the UN Convention on Refugees, and warned of the consequences for vulnerable people.

Now Canadians are being asked to pressure our government to review the agreement, and to rescind recent reductions in Canada’s 2017 refugee numbers. Already many congregations have experienced multi-year waits for sponsored individuals and families to arrive. Now that wait may become longer.

An increasing number of churches are calling for a review or an end to the Safe Third Country Agreement.  For example, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, a binational church that is a partner to The United Church of Canada through the Canadian Council of Churches, released a strong statement and call for action.

Please consider what faithful word of truth and action you and your congregation or presbytery might speak to our government in this moment.

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