Monday, November 15, 2010

Say NO to Bill C-49

I just received this very disturbing e-mail about the Harper government's proposal of a bill that would, in my opinion, drastically endanger refugees in Canada. What is more unfortunate is that it was apparently endorsed by B'nai Brith. Please take time to read the information and letter below.

Open Letter Against Bill C-49 (Immigration Act)

Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney have proposed a new Immigration Act, Bill C-49. It would allow the Minister of Public Safety to declare any group of migrants coming in to Canada a "smuggling incident". There is no definition of a "smuggler" in this Act.

For the asylum seekers who are declared part of an incident (which could be anyone making a refugee claim in a groups of two or more), the Conservative government wants to:

Jail them for a minimum of one year;
Deny access to health services;
Deny monthly detention reviews, allowing migrants in jail a chance to gain freedom only once every 6 months;
Be able to revoke people's refugee status after it has been granted by the refugee determination process;
Ban applications for permanent residence for five years after gaining refugee status;
Bar people from reuniting with their families for five years after gaining refugee status;
Stop people from leaving Canada for five years after gaining refugee status;
Deny the right of appeal to a rejected refugee claim; and
Put in an ex-CSIS director and the man responsible for police brutality during the G20 as a special advisor on human migration.

B'nai Brith has come out in support of this legislation. The government is using this support to claim that it has the endorsement
of the Canadian Jewish community. We are encouraging members of the Jewish community to speak out against Harper, Kenney and B'nai Brith, and to stand up for the rights of refugees.

Please read the following open letter and consider signing on by sending an email with your name and city to:

Prime Minister Harper, Minister Kenney and Minister Toews,

We are members of the Jewish community who are outraged at your government's proposed "Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act". As people of conscience, who care deeply about Jewish history, social justice and human rights, we are appalled that your government is claiming to have Jewish Canadian support for legislation that so blatantly criminalizes refugees and targets them for imprisonment and/or deportation.

Some of us are immigrants ourselves, while others are the children and grandchildren of people who came to this country fleeing persecution. We know either firsthand or through the lessons passed down to us, that Canada has longstanding tradition of refusing entry to immigrants deemed undesirable by the State. Today, Jewish immigration is no longer seen as a threat to the Canadian state, but it was not so long ago that Canada's attitude towards Jewish immigrants was "none is too many". Perhaps the best known result of this policy was the 1939 decision by the Canadian government to turn down a request for landing of the refugee ship, St Louis. Its nine hundred Jewish refugees were sent back to their deaths in Europe. The recent detention of nearly 500 Tamil refugees in British Columbia shows that Canada is proudly continuing its legacy of racist discrimination against people fleeing persecution and genocide.

If this legislation passes, more refugees will be incarcerated, many will be deported and most will face torture, imprisonment or death upon their return. We refuse to be silent as your government - under cover of support from B'nai Brith and other conservative organizations claiming to represent diverse communities - increases its attacks on migrants and refugees.

Your government cannot claim to have the support of the Jewish community as you launch your latest campaign against migrants and refugees. We are honouring our history by denouncing this legislation and joining in the fight for the rights of refugees. We are declaring loudly that no one is illegal.


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