Call on the Trudeau government to impose a moratorium on the deportation of refugees
With the country in the grips of anticipation in trying to accommodate 25,000 Syrian refugees, two community groups are asking Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government to reverse the Conservative government’s decision to send scores of Haitian and Zimbabwean refugees back to their countries.
At a press conference on Tuesday, December 1, the Black Coalition of Quebec issued a call to federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum to impose a moratorium on the deportation of refugees from Canada and also to grant a general amnesty to all refugees in Canada.
Dan Philip, head of the BCQ, told those gathered at his headquarters they are demanding justice for these refugees who are victims of deportation. Pointing out that many who are being deported have entrenched themselves in Canada and have been contributing to the socio-economic development of the Quebec and Canadian societies during these many years.
On another front, The Comité d’action des personnes sans statut (Action committee for non-status people, (CAPSS) is an organization pushing for a standardized approach to dealing with refugees and non-status people in Canada, one that would replace the case-by-case strategy that’s currently in place.
The group wrote an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau applauding the Liberals’ commitment to Syrian refugees, but pointing out the same compassion should be shown to Zimbabweans and Haitians, some of whom have been here for nearly 10 years and who have young children born in Canada.
On Dec. 1, 2014, the Conservative government lifted longstanding moratoriums on deportations to Zimbabwe and Haiti. The moratorium, granted due to unstable conditions in those countries, was nixed after the Conservatives claimed things had improved enough for the refugees to be sent back if they were caught in living in Canada without legal status.
Advocates for refugees were stunned by the decision, pointing out that reports issued by international aid groups and the federal government itself indicated those two countries had made little progress in returning to stability.
CAPSS says news of the Liberals’ well-publicized campaign promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year gave hope to Zimbabwean and Haitian refugees already in Canada that they wouldn’t be deported.
The pledge has since been modified – the government is now aiming to bring 10,000 Syrians to Canada by the end of this year and another 15,000 by March.
But since the Liberals took over, CAPSS says a number of Haitian and Zimbabwean refugees received letters stating they would be deported.
The group wants the new government to reverse the deportation orders, give those who have been told to leave three months to apply for permanent residency, and to implement a strategy, similar to the one Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s Liberals enacted in 1973, to help people without status and refugees apply to stay in Canada.
The Adjustment of Status Program allowed those who had been living in Canada continuously (legally or illegally) for eight months prior to the plan’s adoption to apply for permanent residence. About 39,000 people obtained landed immigrant status under the plan.
The letter ends with a call to action: “Mr. Prime Minister, isn’t it time for Canada to reconnect with its true values … where the state, like a good citizen, lends a hand and welcomes those looking for refuge like they would a brother or sister?”
The letter is dated Nov. 11, 2015. A spokesperson for the group says it is still waiting for a response.