Civil rights and legal orgs urge Trudeau to drop asylum-eligibility changes

The groups are also upset that these measures were buried in a nearly 400-page omnibus budget bill

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his tie as he leaves a cabinet meeting on route to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A group of civil-society and legal organizations is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to withdraw changes to asylum laws included in a Liberal budget bill tabled this week, calling them harsh and unnecessary.

Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian and B.C. civil-liberties associations and the Canadian Council for Refugees have written a joint letter to Trudeau saying the proposed legal changes would strip crucial and hard-won human-rights protections from vulnerable refugees.

“These cases involve incredibly high stakes for the claimants, including questions of persecution and torture, of being able to live life freely in accordance with one’s identity and culture with protection for fundamental human rights and even questions of life and death,” states the letter. “That is why Canada has long ensured that refugee claims are determined in a fair hearing before an independent tribunal.”

The changes would prevent asylum-seekers from making refugee claims in Canada if they have made similar claims in certain other countries, namely the United States — a move Border Security Minister Bill Blair says is aimed at preventing “asylum-shopping.”

READ MORE: Trudeau defends changes to asylum laws that have refugee workers alarmed

Refugee advocates and lawyers have said these changes would have a devastating impact on people seeking asylum in Canada because it would remove their ability to plead their cases in full oral hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The letter to Trudeau echoes these concerns, calling Blair’s justification for the changes “simplistic and inaccurate” and ”offensive.”

“We know from our collective experience that there are a wide range of legitimate reasons why refugee claimants may seek Canada’s protection after having filed a claim elsewhere. They must be given the opportunity to do so,” it says.

The groups are also upset that these measures were buried in a nearly 400-page omnibus budget bill, calling that an undemocratic move that prevents parliamentarians from being able to fully consider the effects and potential unforeseen consequences these measures could have on the refugee system.

They urge Trudeau to withdraw the proposed refugee eligibility changes, which they say would likely result in legal challenges.

Since 2017, over 41,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in Canada via the Canada-U.S. border at unofficial entry points. Blair’s office says the proposed legal changes are meant to deter these “irregular” migrants and maintain the integrity of Canada’s asylum system.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

First Terrace Speedway race day of the year

The annual Mother’s Day Season Opening Races brought in crowds

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read