March 1, 2017
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
House of Commons
Dear Minister Hussen,
The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is deeply concerned by the lack of response from the Government of Canada (GOC) on the significant increase of asylum seekers arriving in Canada from the United States via illegal border crossings to seek refugee status in Canada.
In regard to this, the GOC has been facing pressure to amend or repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement following U.S President Donald Trump’s executive order halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. To date, the Liberal government has refused to make any changes to the current legislation.
In my capacity as President of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), I am writing to urge that Canada respond effectively to this issue. A failure to do so will have dire consequences not only on those seeking refuge in Canada, but will also impact Canadian citizens and Canadian policy decisions moving forward.
The Safe Third Country Agreement stipulates that Canada acknowledges the U.S as a ‘safe haven’ for migrants, meaning no one should have cause to flee the U.S. as a refugee. However, in light of the current situation, this claim is being contested.
CASW is calling for the suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement to eliminate the need for entry by dangerous journeys across unprotected borders. While CASW acknowledges the restricted capacity of Canada to accommodate large numbers of asylum seekers, a failure to act will have dire consequences on those seeking asylum.
As numbers increase, Canadian communities are struggling with a lack of services for asylum seekers. City officials have voiced concerns regarding limits to necessary services, and have called for the GOC to act on this matter. At this point in time, asylum seekers are faced with an uncertain future pending an Immigration and Refugee Board Hearing and the looming implications of the Safe Third Country Agreement.
CASW strongly advocates for the GOC to act on this growing instability and recognize that the problem will continue to increase rather than diminish. Consequently, CASW reaffirms our call for the suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement and the establishment of a fair and humane process for all claimants.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter. CASW looks forward to the GOC’s action to ensure the safety of asylum seekers while reducing the strain on border communities and on existing services for newcomers.
Jan Christianson-Wood, MSW, RSW