The Canadian government must immediately step up in both words and deeds to categorically reject Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugee policy. This is not a drill. This is a time for action.
Trump’s ban affects asylum seekers, immigrants and any and all travellers from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This includes resident green card holders trying to return to the U.S. from travel for personal or work reasons. The U.S. State Department has also confirmed this includes dual citizens from these seven countries, an outrageous and draconian measure that could affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including the Canadian Immigration Minister, since he came to Canada as a refugee from Somalia.
This afternoon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to Trump, albeit indirectly.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
One one level this is great but the present moment calls for more than just subtweeting. Trudeau must stand up and explicitly confront Trump by demanding a repeal of these discriminatory orders and the safeguarding of equal travel rights for all.
Make no mistake, this is Trump’s long-promised Muslim ban. His regime is starting to implement the xenophobic measures they talked about time and again at rallies during the primaries and the general election. Those who downplayed the risk of Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric were tragically mistaken; the threat of fascism must be taken literally and seriously.
To protect those directly affected and threatened by Trump’s Muslim ban, the Canadian government should immediately grant temporary visas to anyone otherwise accepted for entry who is denied under trump's racist and unconstitutional measures. Trudeau should also cancel the so-called “Safe Third Country Agreement.” A LeadNow petition initiated by No One Is Illegal, which already has over 15,000 signatories, explains:
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 Canada doesn’t accept any asylum seekers who come to Canada via the US, because of an outdated law called the “Safe Third Country Agreement”.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.
The American Civil Liberties Union, among others, has already filed suit against the Trump administration for what it describes as “unlawful” orders.
It is also time for the European Union to step up. France and Germany have done well in voicing their opposition to Trump’s decision but in the coming months and years the EU will have to use all of its political capital to withstand the U.S. president. After all Trump is close to Theresa May and Vladimir Putin, two leaders who do not hide their disdain for the EU. As the right-wing rises in the West, there are fewer countries left that can counter this threat. In Europe, a continent that not so long ago witnessed the full horrors of fascism, the threat is of course not just Trump’s influence but also long-established far right parties and movements. Keeping the doors open to refugees and countering right-wing demagoguery against Muslims and immigrants is of the utmost importance.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government have been rightfully credited for being more open to Syrian refugees than Harper’s Conservatives. But we must demand much more. With the rise of the far right in the U.S. and worldwide, not to mention a future in which climate refugees will become ever more numerous, Canada and other states need to welcome more asylum seekers and refugees. In the longer-term, we must work toward a total remaking of Canada’s exploitative and discriminatory immigration system.
There is every indication, with people like Steve Bannon running the show, that Trump’s Muslim ban is just the beginning. If enough countries act to offset Trump’s policies, a lot of needless human suffering can be alleviated.