Jewish Canadian Open Letter Against Bill C49

Posted by admin on Nov 3rd, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prime Minister Harper, Minister Kenney and Minister Toews, We are members of the Jewish community who are outraged at your government’s proposed ‘Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act’. As people of conscience, who care deeply about Jewish history, social justice and human rights, we are appalled that your government is claiming to have Jewish Canadian support for legislation that so blatantly criminalizes refugees and targets them for imprisonment and/or deportation.

Some of us are immigrants ourselves, while others are the children and grandchildren of people who came to this country fleeing persecution. We know either firsthand or through the lessons passed down to us, that Canada has longstanding tradition of refusing entry to immigrants deemed undesirable by the State. Today, Jewish immigration is no longer seen as a threat to the Canadian state, but it was not so long ago that Canada’s attitude towards Jewish immigrants was ‘none is too many’. Perhaps the best known result of this policy was the 1939 decision by the Canadian government to turn down a request for landing of the refugee ship, St Louis. Its nine hundred Jewish refugees were sent back to their deaths in Europe. The recent detention of nearly 500 Tamil refugees in British Columbia shows that Canada is proudly continuing its legacy of racist discrimination against people fleeing persecution and genocide.

If this legislation passes, more refugees will be incarcerated, many will be deported and most will face torture, imprisonment or death upon their return. We refuse to be silent as your government – under cover of support from B’nai Brith and other conservative organizations claiming to represent diverse communities – increases its attacks on migrants and refugees.

Your government cannot claim to have the support of the Jewish community as you launch your latest campaign against migrants and refugees. We are honouring our history by denouncing this legislation and joining in the fight for the rights of refugees. We are declaring loudly that no one is illegal.

Signed: (View here )

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