More than 200 university law professors from across the country want Canada to take action against President Donald Trump’s contentious travel ban.
READ MORE: Canada should suspend Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. says B.C. group
“The claim is that it’s (the travel ban) about terrorism and national security and that these seven countries generate people that are terrorists,” Jonathan Shapiro said, a Dalhousie University law professor.
Shapiro along with several other Dalhousie professors signed an open-letter to federal Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen asking for the immediate suspension of the “Safe Third Country” agreement with the U.S.
“If Canada doesn’t suspend the agreement then I think we are agreeing to let human lives be put at risk, in the name of sustaining a political relationship with the United States,” MacIntosh said.
The safe country agreement was created on the rationale that both countries are safe for refugees to claim protection in.
READ MORE: What is ‘safe third country’ legislation?
Under the agreement, refugees must submit a claim for protection based on the country they land in meaning those who land in the U.S. must process their application there and vice-versa if they land in Canada.
But many law professors argue the agreement was entered when both North American countries were considered to be safe for refugees.
They say that safety is now questionable after Trump signed an executive order stopping refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days. The ban also prevents nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country.
“Given the recent comments by the American president of an openness to considering torture and of a clear willingness to treat refugees differently based on their religion and country of origin, I don’t think we can assume that an asylum seeker is going to be treated fairly in the United States,” MacIntosh said.
An emergency debate was held in the House of Commons Tuesday night, where MPs tackled what position Canada should take on addressing the travel ban.
READ MORE: MPs hold emergency debate on Trump’s travel ban in House of Commons
Both Shapiro and MacIntosh believe a suspension of the agreement would send a global message that Canada won’t stand for refugee discrimination.
“There’s an opportunity for us to say, look we recognize the value of our relationship with the United States but we’re not going to let United States policies dictate who we are as Canadians,” Shapiro said.
The letter from the law professors was presented during the debate, and though suspension of the agreement was also on the list of actions the federal NDP wanted the government to take, a decision has not been made.