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Canada PM Justin Trudeau pressured to suspend US refugee agreement in face of ‘unacceptable’ policy

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday the U.S. practice of separating immigrant children from their parents on its southern border was “unacceptable”, even as he resisted pressure to suspend a bilateral agreement designating the United States a “safe” country for refugees.

Trudeau has been under increasing pressure to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, a 2004-era pact under which asylum seekers presenting at a land border crossing in either country are turned back and told to apply for refugee status in the first country they arrived in.

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The agreement has been under fire for years in Canada from lawyers and advocates who argue the United States is not “safe” for refugees, and that its system is not analogous to Canada’s.

“What is happening in the United States is unacceptable. I cannot imagine what these families are going through. Obviously this is not the way we do things in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters at the parliament buildings on Wednesday.

The comments were by far the harshest by a member of the Canadian government, which is trying to prevent a trade war with the United States and is also struggling to control cross-border migration of its own.
More than 30,000 asylum seekers have illegally crossed the Canada-U.S. border since January 2017, many saying they were fleeing U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Trudeau has come under increasing political pressure to condemn Washington for the practice of splitting up families and putting children in enclosed detention centers. As recently as Monday, he said he would not play politics with the issue.

This week, former federal Liberals as well as opposition politicians and rights groups called on the federal government to suspend the agreement.

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“The United States is no longer ‘safe’ for asylum seekers… We should make crystal clear that we will not be complicit in his mistreatment of refugees,” former diplomats Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock wrote in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail this week.

The Trump administration is facing intense criticism in the United States and abroad over its “zero tolerance” policy which can result in immigrant children being separated from their parents after they cross the U.S. border illegally.

Trump said on Wednesday signed an executive order that he said will keep families together but retain the “zero tolerance” policy.

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A court challenge launched last year argues the Safe Third Country Agreement is discriminatory and violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Recent developments, including child separations and U.S. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions’ decision to disregard domestic violence as grounds for a refugee claim, only reinforce existing arguments against the agreement, said Janet Dench, head of the Canadian Council for Refugees, which is intervening in the case.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; editing by Bill Berkrot and Chizu Nomiyama


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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This poisonous mindset convinced Republicans that anything is justifiable

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On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi said she asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment. Her announcement was historic, decisive and fierce due to three simple and overlooked words: once again and enemies.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

In using “once again,” the speaker of the House signaled that the House Democrats are prepared to expand the scope of the indictment against Donald Trump to include his complicity in the 2016 assault by Russia on the sovereignty of the American people as well as his enlisting of another foreign leader to undermine the integrity of 2020.

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Nikki Haley busted by Civil War historian after claiming the Confederate flag was once a symbol of ‘heritage’

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Former South Carolina Governor and Trump United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Friday stirred controversy when she claimed that the Confederate flag was once a noble symbol that only lost legitimacy once it was "hijacked" by a mass murderer.

During an interview with talk show host Glenn Beck, Haley described how she reacted after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Here is this guy who comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag," she said, referring to Roof. "And [he] had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don't have hateful people in South Carolina -- there's always the small minority, that's always going to be there -- but people saw it as service and sacrifice and heritage, but once he did that, there was no way to overcome it."

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Ex-Infowars staffer exposes the twisted world of Alex Jones in a new tell-all article

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Some people listen to far-right conspiracy theorist/radio host and Infowars founder Alex Jones purely for the entertainment value; many of Jones’ hardcore followers, however, take him quite seriously. Former employee Josh Owens used to be one of them. But in a tell-all article for the New York Times, the Texas-based writer explains why he changed his mind and quit what he once considered a dream job.

Owens recalls that he first went to work for Jones in 2012. The writer explains, “Jones — wanting to expand his website, Infowars, into a full-blown guerrilla news operation and hoping to scout new hires from his growing fan base — held an online contest. At 23, I was vulnerable, angry and searching for direction. So, I decided to give it a shot. Out of what Infowars said were hundreds of submissions, my video — a half-witted, conspiratorial glance at the creation and function of the Federal Reserve — made it to the final round.”

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