Sandy and Nora talk about Canada’s borders: from refugee claimants from the United States to CBSA, where innocent people are housed in maximum security facilities, Canadians need to start asking questions about what their government is doing to families who are seeking Canada for a better life.

Like what you hear? Take a second to support us on Patreon!

One comment on “Episode 21: Canada’s racist border policies

  1. Emily Shelton says:

    Hi Sandy and Nora,

    This was a great episode. Right now, I engaged in a letter exchange with my MP, Raj Saini, re immigration. I started by just writing a letter in opposition to the Trump administration separating children from their parents. But since doing that, I started to learn a bit more about Canada’s treatment of refugees. I visited the No One is Illegal FB page for a more sophisticated call to action, and then ended up re-listening to this episode. When Raj finally replied to me, I heavily borrowed from this podcast to write my reply last night to him. Thanks for providing this knowledge as a valuable resource. From my days at CESAR, I know this isn’t fully plagiarism since I don’t stand to gain from the creation of the letter, but you are going to recognize many of these verbatim phrasings 😉

    I have posted my letter below:

    Dear Raj,

    Thank you for your reply. I was starting to think that I would not be hearing back from my elected MP on this important issue! I just needed to give it a 30-day grace period it seems.

    The Safe Third Country Agreement precludes Canada from accepting anyone claiming refugee status if they come from the United States because this is evidently a “safe third country” – meaning that anyone who passes through the United States who are trying to find safety, and find themselves in an unsafe or precarious position in the United States, cannot legally claim refugee status if they show up at a formal or legal border crossing.

    This has resulted in what we are seeing – people entering Canada through unofficial border crossings. And it tells those Canadians who are racist (including Ontarians, and including people who live in KW, including your riding of Kitchener Centre), whose ranks are on the rise, that people are sneaking into Canada from the US and trying to bypass the official systems in order to do so. And it obscures the fact that there is not really a way to come to Canada to claim refugee status when crossing the longest international border in the world. These people then become further entrenched in their xenophobic, anti-immigrant stances, resulting in Doug Ford’s policies.

    I think we both know that these things don’t happen in a vacuum, and in fact, they are happening as a result of two things:

    (1) the human spirit trying to persevere beyond arbitrary man-made borders to find a better life

    (2) The Safe Third Country Agreement, which is a policy that leaves refugees no place to turn

    As much as I would like to believe that the Liberal Party/Trudeau government is pro-refugee your actions don’t align with your words. It’s a fact that your administration has asked the United States to EXPAND The Safe Third Country Agreement to make it so that the provisions to carry weight whether or not a refugee or a migrant attempting to receive asylum is attempting cross at an official border crossing or not a border crossing.

    This is significant because, under Trump, the United States is changing a number of protections that had previously existed for people that sought asylum, and it’s particularly affecting Haitian migrants and people from El Salvador for example. So there has been quite a lot of attempted border crossings outside of the “official gates.” And so when people see this spike in “illegals” crossing the border, they go bonkers and start spuing that virulent anti-immigration with tones of racist rhetoric that we see on online comment forums from the far right.

    I appreciate your promise to “keep my words in mind”, but unfortunately, this doesn’t go far enough.

    The Safe Third Country Agreement should be either done away with or reimagined so that administrations like Trump’s don’t hurt people, tear families apart, and in doing so, make Canada an accomplice. Our country is like a bully’s friend who stands by and watches as he beats up a kid who is smaller than himself.

    I practice gratitude, and I try to practice it every day. I have so much in my life to be thankful for. One of the main things I have to be thankful for is being born in Canada. Through no action of my own, I am afforded such a good life. Safe, clean drinking water, enough to eat, education, safe streets, rights, and freedoms to engage in a conversation/express dissent with my MP or at the very least his staffers, freedom to travel the world as I see fit, one of the highest standards of living in the world. I am safe and comfortable here. But it was just by chance of my birth, a lucky break. It was nothing that I did to earn it, and I deserve it no less or no more than a refugee from Syria, Honduras, Nigeria.

    As an immigrant, you and/or your family earned your status, and from what I am told, it’s no small feat to do that. Not everyone has the ability to do the same thing, but they still deserve our compassion and a chance to lead a secure and peaceful life. I don’t think it serves Liberal values to obscure the truth around The Safe Third Country Agreement in letters to constituents, and in doing so to dodge the reality of how it props up Trump’s policies. And I also think that it is stirring up dangerous anti-immigrant rumblings here in our province and in our very communities.

    I also want to know what is your government going to address the concerns and the stance of Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, who is claiming that illegal immigrants are straining the system and that we can’t pay for it all? How are you going to work with him to change the tides of the rhetoric around immigrants? Doug Ford’s political posturing is a dog-whistle to the radical right, made possible because of Justin Trudeau’s reckless tweets and The Safe Third Country Agreement that you so eloquently defend in your letter to me. As I wrote earlier, things don’t happen in a vacuum. Every action causes a reaction. And right now we are in the throes of a global tide of conservatism, and perhaps well-meaning policies like The Safe Third Country Agreement that have not been updated to reflect the realities of Trump/Ford’s particular brand of populism mixed with white supremacy.

    Will you commit to raising my concerns with Ahmed Hussen, Justin Trudeau and the policymakers of your government?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *