The world watches the response of the United States to the worldwide crisis of refugees. What’s going on on your country? Here’s a piece from SSVP Canada.
As one of my duties as chair of our national social justice committee, I take part in monthly conference calls with social justice reps from various branches of the Vincentian family. There are likely about 15 or so who may attend these calls, with most being located in the U.S.A. and a couple of Sisters of Charity from Canada.
There is such a general feeling of disgust and disappointment amongst this group with their president and the very dangerous level of racism and hatred being faced today in the U.S.A. While this level of prejudice has existed for a long time, we now see what happens when your leadership does not clearly demonstrate their opposition to such feelings. We are to be grateful that all of our political parties here in Canada condemn such behaviour.
While we are not faced with the level of discourse we see south of the border, we are not exempt from such feelings and actions. Let us, as an organization stand with all of our fellow Canadians and future Canadians. The response many of you have shown towards refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern nations is one we can be proud of. I encourage you to also support efforts to accommodate refugees that are fleeing the U.S.A. and seeking asylum in Canada.
One way we can take action is by supporting the need for our government to rescind the Safe Third Country agreement we have with the U.S.A. This agreement forces any refugees who are coming from the U.S.A. to find their way into Canada by backroads that avoid the legal border crossing points of entry. At times, they are forced to endure difficult conditions on such a journey to freedom. If they enter at border crossing this agreement forces Canada to refuse their entry. You can find a petition at the website for Amnesty International to rescind this agreement. You may also contact your MP to voice your support.
Jim Paddon is past president of the Ontario, Canada Society of St. Vincent de Paul and now chair of their national social justice committee.