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Raise your voice to see the Safe Third Country Agreement rescinded once and for all.
A large 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.
Ask the government to uphold the rights of refugees and:
Refuse to mischaracterize refugee claimants as "illegal" border crossers
Some Members of Parliament have described refugee claimants as "illegals," which has served to create public discord and unwarranted fear. This has also created a public narrative that falsely conflates seeking refugee protection with criminality. Considering the platforms of these individuals, it is paramount that they not spread misinformation about such a vulnerable population.
Restore access to refugee protection at the Canada-U.S. border
Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, only refugee claimants that meet a narrow set of exceptions can make a claim at an official border point. As a result, a majority of claimants have no choice but to enter Canada between Ports of Entry in order to apply for protection, often at great risk to themselves. By allowing refugee claimants to make their claims directly at the border, Canada can restore a sense of safety and dignity for refugees.
Rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.
By rescinding the STCA, Canada will allow refugees from the U.S. to once again have access to protection in Canada. This will greatly reduce irregular border crossings, restore public confidence in Canada’s refugee system, and uphold the rights of each individual refugee. Considering the more than 25.4 million refugees around the world today, Canada must do its part to respond to growing global demands for refugee protection.
Ask your MP to fully waive travel loan repayment for resettled refugees!
For many years, refugee advocates have called for amendments to the Immigration Loans Program, which provides new immigrants and refugees with loans to cover the costs of their relocation to Canada. Refugees make up 98% of Immigration Loans Program users, and the burden of repaying these loans has often hindered their ability to settle in Canada.
In February, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada amended the program to discontinue the practice of charging interest on loans and extend the loan repayment period. While these changes were commendable, the continued requirement for refugees to fund their travel to Canada will still leave many with significant financial burdens.
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
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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Takver/Flickr