The U.S. immigration ban "threatens the well-being of countless children, youth and families," according to a new statement from the Canadian Paediatric Society that calls on the federal government to accept more refugees and suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month temporarily stopping refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., described as a national security measure. On Friday, a judge suspended the order, and the matter is now before the courts. It's unclear whether it will be reinstated.
The Canadian Paediatric Society, which represents doctors across the country, said in its statement Monday that xenophobia, hate speech and racist rhetoric are rising in Canada and around the world and that the "negative and sometimes threatening tone and content of public discourse is worrisome." Last week, six men were killed and more than a dozen others injured after an individual opened fire in a Quebec City mosque. Police arrested Alexandre Bissonnette in connection with the mass shooting. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described it as an act of terror.
Families and children have been separated and some detained as a result of the U.S. executive order, compounding problems many refugees and immigrants already face before leaving their home country, according to the CPS. This presents an "undeniable" health risk that must be addressed, the statement said.
The society said Canada should do more to help children and others affected by the immigration and refugee ban, notably increasing the number of refugees accepted into the country in 2017. The society is also calling for the government to allow more privately sponsored refugees from Iraq and Syria to come to Canada and do more to make sure Canadians with dual citizenship from the countries implicated in the ban can freely cross the U.S. border. The society argues Canada should also suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, under which refugees make a claim in the country where they land. The society says Canada should lift the agreement so that refugees refused in the U.S. can enter Canada. The federal government should also take on a leadership role in the global resettlement of refugees, the society said.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world is experiencing the highest levels of displacement ever recorded. More than 65 million people have been forced from their homes. Of those, more than 21 million are refugees, over half of whom are under one year of age.
No refugees have been involved in a fatal terrorist attack in the U.S. since the creation of a comprehensive program to accept refugees in 1980, according to an analysis from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.