Amnesty International is calling for Canada to re-open its border with the US – for refugees only. Do you see a problem with that?
Your first thought might be that they are calling for Canada to take in Americans fleeing their country at the thought of four more years of Donald Trump. But that isn’t it. They want Canada to take in those from other countries that don’t want to stay in the US.
It is a convention that refugees should be accepted and stay in the first safe country they reach. That is why there are so many people in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and Kenya, just to name a few.
People in those camps have escaped armed conflict in their home countries. They flee, not really choosing their destinations, they just want to be somewhere safe.
The idea that you must stay in the first safe place you reach is a common one. I know people in Germany, who having escaped persecution elsewhere, now face deportation. Not back to their home countries, where their lives would be at risk, but to the European nations they reached first.
They were safe there, and the argument is they came to Germany for the economic advantages. Germany treats refugees well, maybe better than any other EU nation. It is everyone’s preferred destination.
While I can sympathize with those who don’t like Trump’s policies, I find it difficult to believe refugees aren’t safe there. Perhaps its policies aren’t as embracing as Canada’s. Perhaps refugees have more likelihood of being deported from the US than Canada. But is that enough, from a political perspective? (Humanitarian considerations are another matter. That may be a discussion for a different day.)
Why isn’t Amnesty International calling for the US to change its policies? Maybe they are and I just didn’t notice. More likely though, they figure it would be a wasted effort. America’s legendary compassion seems to have vanished. At the top anyway.
Canada is more likely to listen to a humanitarian appeal. The question is, should it?