Turning people away at the border same as building a wall

OTTAWA – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) said today that all Canadians should be deeply disturbed by reports that the Trudeau government is considering closing a loophole in the Safe Third Country (STCA) Agreement.

“Given the unpredictability and disarray of current immigration procedures in the U.S., the United States should no longer be designated as a “Safe Third Country”. People are fleeing the U.S. to come to Canada because they are no longer safe there, and are in peril of being returned to countries where their lives could be threatened,” said Ms. May. “If border officials are allowed to turn away asylum seekers at unauthorized points of entry, we might as well just build a wall across the entire country. Whatever happened to our “welcoming” country? I understand that times have changed, but this does not reflect Canadian values of hospitality and protection. People who risk their lives to flee across a border in the middle of winter are desperate and out of options.”

Currently, the STCA states that asylum-seekers cannot claim refugee protection in Canada if they arrive at an official border crossing from a so-called ‘safe’ country such as the United States. According to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the RCMP intercepted 19,419 people trying to cross into Canada last year.

“Canada needs to step up to the plate and accept that many of these people are fleeing persecution and/or disaster for the second time. We need to allow them to go through the same processing as refugees would if they were to present at regular points of entry, not add to their suffering,” stated Ms. May.

“I would like to remind Border Security Minister Bill Blair of our national tradition of welcoming newcomers. We do not turn away the most vulnerable. Canada will also need to prepare for the inevitable increase of refugees fleeing natural disasters brought about by climate change.”

The Green Party of Canada views multicultural diversity as an essential part of our national identity. Immigrants and refugees come here in search of a safer, more fulfilling life for themselves and their families. They should be welcomed and offered the opportunity to participate fully in Canadian society.