In 2014, there were 19.5 million refugees in the world, with an average of 42,500 people forced every day to migrate due to conflict and persecution. Only about 10% of these refugees were hosted by countries in the West. This year, approximately 3,270 refugees have already died on their journeys to safety.
Accordingly, the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (CAMWL) stands in solidarity with community and advocacy groups across the country in calling on the Canadian government to welcome refugees. We stand in solidarity with the thousands of people marching on Canadian streets for an end to exclusionary immigration laws.
In under a decade, the Canadian government has implemented 111 new immigration policies without parliamentary approval — compared to 19 in the preceding century and a half. Most recently, these policies have included: cuts to critical health care for refugees; denying appeals to refugees based on their nationality; imprisoning increasing numbers of refugees (including over 4,000 children in the last decade), even in the face of in-detention suicides and deaths; and making citizenship harder to get and easier to lose for racialized people. The criminal context has included the passage of Bill C-51, which expands and entrenches the targeted surveillance of Aboriginal, Black, and Muslim communities in Canada.
CAMWL condemns the Canadian government’s trafficking in a politics of fear, which renders precarious the lives and security of asylum seekers in their countries of origin, during their migrations, and upon their arrival in Canada. We condemn Canada’s involvement in the global flows of violence that force people to flee their homes for safer shores.
This includes Canada’s participation in the War on Terror, and its accordant support for the killings, torture, and displacement of people throughout and from the Global South. In Afghanistan and Iraq alone, two countries where Canadian forces have been active, the collective death toll exceeds millions; yet Canada continues to deport people to both countries, despite official moratoria on deportations to both.
CAMWL emphasizes the links between international displacement and domestic dispossession. In Canada, Indigenous peoples live at the frontlines of internal and invisibilized borders; they face staggeringly disproportionate rates of imprisonment, family separation, and poverty, while Indigenous women in particular face an epidemic of murders and disappearances. These forms of settler-colonial violence locally mirror the violences that often prompt refugee migration abroad, laying bare the hypocrisy of Canada’s deeming other countries “safe” to reject refugees, while it refuses to admit the violences faced by Indigenous peoples here.
CAMWL calls on the Canadian government to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to life, peace, and justice. We call on the Canadian government to accept and to support more refugees. Last year, Canada offered a permanent home to less than 1% of new refugees. It ranked 41st in the world in its number of refugees per capita.
We mourn with families here and across the globe for the countless dead lost to war and border-control. For the departed and for the grieving, we wish a safe passage home.
- Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories, 2015.
- “We Have No Rights”: Arbitrary Imprisonment and Cruel Treatment of Migrants with Mental Health Issues in Canada, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, 2015.
- Lead artwork: “Migration is Beautiful,” by Favianna Rodriguez and John Carr.
- Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law: email@example.com