VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As Donald Trump moves to seal the US border to refugees, the Immigrant Services Society (ISSofBC) of BC argues that Canada should up its 2017 refugee resettlement targets to fill the gap.
An executive order signed by the president on Friday suspends the entry of Syrian refugees until further notice.
“We’ve been watching this, the recent executive orders, with grave concern,” says ISSofBC settlement services director Chris Friesen.
“It appears to be an overreaction, but we understand too, politically, this is part of what president Trump campaigned on and this speaks to his electoral base. It’s just unfortunate that, given the fact that over 50 per cent of refugees around the world now are children and youth, that they are the ones that have the greatest impact by this executive order.”
Friesen is also chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance which, in the face of this executive order, has started pushing the federal government to fill some of the void left by this US policy decision.
The current target for government-assisted refugees is capped at 7,500 for 2017.
“The fact that we were able to accommodate over 40,000 refugees last year, we have far more capacity to assist on the humanitarian-immigration side,” Friesen says.
He adds that the current backlog of roughly 40,000 privately-sponsored refugee applications indicates strong public support for raising the resettlement targets.