Take Action: Refugee Rights

Refugee Rights | Research | Policy Statements | Church Resources | Take Action | News 

Take Action: Refugee Rights

Raise your voice to see the Safe Third Country Agreement rescinded once and for all.

There has been a large increase in the number of refugee claimants that have arrived in Canada from the U.S. throughout the past year.

The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) allows the Canada Border Services Agency to return refugee claimants to the U.S. under the premise that refugees should make their claim in the first "safe" country in which they arrive. But as  U.S. border officials continue to separate migrant children from their families, there is much reason to believe that the U.S. is no longer safe.

CPJ's new advocacy resource, "Reclaiming Protection," details how the STCA has restricted access to refugee protection and how you can call for it to be rescinded. 

A Half Welcome: Advocacy Package

CPJ conducted a survey of Sponsorship Agreement Holders in Canada, to determine the policy challenges necessary to improve their sponsorship work. The results of this survey formed the basis of CPJ’s new report, “A Half Welcome: Delays, Limits, and Inequities in Canadian Refugee Sponsorship.”

Four main challenges emerged from SAHs’ responses. Of the SAHs we polled, about 97% raised concerns about how long it takes to process applications. What’s more, 94% of SAHs expressed overall concern with the long processing times for non-Syrian cases, while 88% found current allocation limits to be troubling for private sponsorship today. Lastly, about 75% of SAHs are concerned with the travel loans refugees must repay upon resettlement in Canada. 

We have developed this advocacy resource to assist anyone who would like to learn how to advocate on refugee issues in ways that bring about meaningful change. The package provides advocacy tactics and information centred around the four issues raised in CPJ's report. However, it can be used to advocate on other refugee-related issues (such as the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and the challenges it poses for refugees and refugee claimants).

Advocacy is integral to social and political change. CPJ believes that Canadians have a responsibility to support members of society who cannot speak for themselves. 

We have organized the advocacy resource into sizeable pieces. You can select any section you may need at any time out of the package.

1. Introduction: Why Advocacy?

Each of us has role to play in our own communities to support refugees.

  • Join or support refugee sponsorship groups in your local church or community.
  • Check out the Canadian Council for Refugees and learn about their campaigns.

As we call for justice for refugees, it is critical that we understand how best to make our message impactful.

Learn more: Advocacy for Refugees (PDF)

2. Doing Research 

You can become more knowledgeable on refugee issues in Canada through CPJ's advocacy and research work.

  • Read CPJ's report on private sponsorship challenges in Canada. A Half Welcome provides information on major policy challenges to private sponsorship - wait times for submitted applications, allocation limits, and the travel loans program.   
  • Read CPJ's policy statements on refugee issues to keep informed on CPJ's position and recommendations on refugee policy.
  • Learn about the ongoing legal challenge to the STCA.

Learn more: Doing Research (PDF).

3. Formulating Objectives

Once you have completed research on the topic, you can begin to develop the focus and objectives of your advocacy efforts. 

Learn more: Formulating Objectives (PDF)

4. Choosing Tactics

The most effective advocacy strategy uses a variety of methods—or tactics. CPJ has provided a breakdown of the different tactics you can use.

Learn more: Choosing Tactics (PDF)

5. Forming Relationships with Policy-Makers

You will need to develop relationships with policy officials and parliamentarians (such as your Member of Parliament). Find a list of ways to develop relationships with policy-makers.

Learn more: Forming Relationships with Policy-Makers (PDF)

6. Calling your MP

In many cases, it may be useful to give your Member of Parliament's office a call to express your position on the issues you're concerned with. This is sometimes more direct than writing a letter would be.

Learn more: Calling your MP (PDF)

7. Meeting with your MP

You can also visit your Member of Parliament to discuss your concerns.  Find more information on preparation for the meeting, what to do at the meeting, and how to follow up after you have met with your MP.

Learn more: Meeting with your MP (PDF)

8. Sample Letter

Write to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ahmed Hussen(link sends e-mail), asking him to:

  •  take action on the issues raised in A Half Welcome.
  • review the Safe Third Country Agreement, in light of recent refugee inflows into Canada, and the legal challenge launched by the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Council for Refugees. For an example, read CPJ's letter to the Minister.

CPJ has also drafted a sample letter you can modify to suit your areas of concern. This document provides information on what style of writing is best suited for correspondence with MPs.

Sample letter: PDF | Word Doc

9. Sample One Page Brief

You can also write a one-page brief to communicate with MPs, media outlets, and others. The brief summarizes the problem, the background information, and the solutions you propose. CPJ has drafted a sample one-page brief on the four main concerns A Half Welcome raises. 

Sample brief: PDF | Word Doc

10. Petition to improve refugee settlement! 

For many years, refugee advocates have called for changes to the Immigration Loans Program, which provides new immigrants and refugees with loans to cover the costs of their relocation to Canada. Recently, the federal government amended the program to discontinue the practice of charging interest on loans and extend the repayment period. 

But despite these important steps, a problem persists: the fact that refugees must repay them at all. 

Together with partners at the the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue, Mennonite Central Committee, and World Renew, we are calling on the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to fully waive travel loan repayment for all refugees. Use our online action to make your voice heard!


Photo Credit: Takver/Flickr


Latest Tweets