MEDIA RELEASE: Liberals must protect the human rights of asylum-seekers

NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Jenny Kwan issued the following statement ahead of today’s committee meeting on the study of Conditions Faced by Asylum-Seekers where the Minister of Immigration will be testifying

“As the world experiences an unprecedented refugee crisis, Canada has a vital role to play in resettling people forced out of their homes by conflict, persecution and disasters. And as a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention, Canada has an obligation to recognize the rights of refugees to reach safety.
Ahead of today’s committee meeting on the study of Conditions Faced by Asylum-Seekers where the Minister of Immigration will be testifying, the NDP renews its call for the Liberals to end the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). Since it allows Canada to turn back asylum-seekers, the STCA has put the lives of people fleeing persecution at risk and allowed a major Liberal donor and human smugglers to profit off their suffering.
Over the years, asylum-seekers have been trying to find refuge in Canada by travelling through irregular crossings like the border-crossers at Roxham Road in Quebec. These irregular crossings are not illegal. They are not even queue jumping. They are processed as inland refugees according to our rules — but without the protections for those seeking refuge. By suspending the STCA, the processing of refugees would be directed to official ports of entry where there is already government infrastructure to do it safely and with protections for asylum-seekers from human smugglers.
But instead of ending the STCA, the Liberals expanded its use by applying it to the “Five Eyes” countries. To make matters worse, the Liberal government is now in a court battle fighting against a federal court ruling that the STCA was unconstitutional. This is shameful.
Furthermore, the Liberals have made it even harder for asylum-seekers by adding layers of bureaucracy that delay the processing of asylum claims by another 12 to 24 months. Without a Refugee Protection Claimant document and a worker’s permit, asylum seekers are barred from employment and earning a living in Canada. And some asylum seekers are even indefinitely detained without any charges. This is wrong and Liberals must act now to ensure asylum-seeker are delivered the necessary documents so they can earn a living in Canada and to protect their human rights.

We must do everything we can to resettle refugees in our communities, ensuring they are given the support they need to build successful lives and new homes here in Canada.”

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