On my last post on the subject of immigration I indicated that I believed there was a duty to rescue someone in serious trouble if to do so involved a relatively trivial loss to the rescuer. I used the analogy of a person who refused to rescue a drowning person because he did not want to get his shoes wet. This would morally leprous. Yet, I believe it is a common attitude especially on the right. Many of them don’t want any migrants let alone those seeking asylum
After World War II many in the west were so ashamed by the failure of the west to rescue Jews fleeing Nazi persecution that they brought in new international law that required nations to grant asylum from asylum seekers. This was enshrined in the International Convention on Refugees signed by Canada along with more than a 100 other countries.
We must remember that often these people fleeing violence and oppression are the most vulnerable people in the world including women and young children. Sometimes they are children as young as 12 years old travelling all alone through a long line of unwelcoming countries. Refugees as young as my grand daughter take the most desperate measures to escape countries and travel to countries they think are safe, dodging predatory criminals along the way. Many of these women and children to end up in the most inhospitable countries where they are shouted at by locals to go back home, treated like criminals, locked up in cages, forced to sleep in the cold on the hard stony ground, and in the most egregious cases even separated from their parents under the most trauma inducing circumstances while billionaire politicians lie to them that they are illegal when they are not, are and not wanted when often they are. Some countries of the west are now reengaging in the practices from their past that are the most despicable in their histories.
Then when these refugees arrive at the country where they want to seek asylum because they think they will be safe there they are called, wrongly I might add, illegal immigrants. Every country seems to have its Ted Falk, like we do in Canada, who metaphorically stands at the border telling them to go home because we fear what they will do here.
These are not illegal immigrants. They are asylum seekers and they have the right by international law, as included in International Treaties to which countries like Canada are signatories, to come to our country and claim asylum. We have a legal and moral duty to listen to them so that they can make their claim. We are entitled to take our time to assess those claims and if found invalid to send them back. But these are not illegal immigrants. We have to do that even if it costs us a bit of money. We can afford it. Our shoes will dry out again.
We have to remember what Paul Heinbecker the former Canadian diplomat and current member of the World Refugee Council said on a recent CBC radio Ideas program, “We cannot continue with this demonization of refugees as equating them with terrorists. We have to recognize that they have a right to refuge.” Those are not demon on our borders. They are on the inside.