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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Canada can no longer consider the U.S. a safe country for refugees and immigrants: Mochama

Hate crimes on South Asian men and an uptick in threats on Jewish centres among the mounting reasons to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, says Mochama.

A couple claiming to be from Turkey is warned by an RCMP officer before they cross the U.S.-Canada border into Quebec last month.

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A couple claiming to be from Turkey is warned by an RCMP officer before they cross the U.S.-Canada border into Quebec last month.

It is time for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. In fact, it is past due.

With its policies, Donald Trump’s government has declared open season on Muslims and immigrants. The courts struck down the initial travel ban, yet the Trump administration has doubled down on its commitments.

Now the dangerous rhetoric and policy from the West Wing has filtered down to its citizenry.

Jewish community centres and cemeteries are receiving threats. In Washington state Deep Rai, a Sikh man, was shot on his driveway on March 3 by a suspect who reportedly told him to “go back to your country.”  In Kansas last month, two men were shot, one fatally, by a man who allegedly asked the Indian immigrants if their “status was legal” before opening fire, according to reported witness accounts.

The American government looks set to formalize a system of oppression directed at its racialized citizens and at migrants searching for safety. They must do this without Canada’s complacency.

More Views from Vicky:

The uptick in migrants claiming asylum by walking across the border is a direct response to the climate of fear that migrants face under Donald Trump. It is also a response to the particular requirements of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires refugees declare asylum in the first country they arrive in, with the assumption that both are sanctuaries. This only applies, however, at official border crossings.

As Vice reported, asylum claimants who mistakenly apply at an official crossing actually risk deportation back to the original country they are fleeing.

Only a broken process penalizes people for using it.

Refugees are risking life and limb to get here; they are telling Canadians that the U.S. is not safe for them. Our government has responded to this urgent message with vagueness and equivocation.

Asked Monday by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair if the U.S. is still safe for refugees, Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t answer directly. On the updated travel ban, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters: “This is a detailed matter with some careful nuances and we’re going to be looking at all the details so we can provide Canadians with complete information about everything they need to know.”

The responsible course here is to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. The moral – and smart – move is to follow up that suspension with a coherent plan to assist refugees arriving from the United States.

We are now on the second iteration of the executive order, which comes well over a month after the chaos sown by the first. Despite calls from a number of legal organizations to suspend the agreement, including Harvard Law School, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International Canada, our government has stood still.

Migrants have not. They cannot afford to.

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