A Canadian Immigration Law Office’s Thoughts on the Syrian Refugee Crisis
It has been a truly remarkable year as the world has come to grips with the fallout of the Syrian refugee crisis. The sheer magnitude of this humanitarian situation, and the images of families and children in desperate circumstances, inspired communities throughout the world, along with Canadian refugee lawyers to mobilize and take action.
In Canada, the Syrian refugee crisis brought the spotlight on immigration and refugee issues during the Canadian federal elections. Once elected, the liberal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately facilitated the acceptance of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada. It was truly refreshing and heart warming that as Canadians we were opening our doors to offer protection to such a vulnerable population.
Each time that the voice of a refugee is heard and our country recognizes a claim for protection, we are promoting equality and human rights and working toward the elimination of racial discrimination. Gerami Law PC has been honoured to represent numerous refugee claimants, including those from the Syrian community, and throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Our Canadian Immigration lawyers represent women and children, who have suffered systemic discrimination and gender inequality, stateless individuals, and others who have been forced out of their homes by oppressive regimes. We have had the privilege of telling their stories and also sharing their success and empowerment when their refugee claim is accepted and they are finally safe with their families and children in Canada.
Refugees can make their claim overseas and then seek resettlement or they may make their way to a safe country such as Canada and make an in-land refugee claim. Many, such as the Syrians, come from war-torn countries and have seen or experienced unthinkable horrors. They may have been traumatized, lost their homes and maybe even some of their family members; they have to adjust to a completely new environment, with a new host of fears and challenges; they have to learn a new language, find accommodation and make a new home for themselves and their families.
This is where the support and generous dedication of volunteers, and ordinary people in their new community plays a critical role. Most of the refugees that Gerami Law Refugee Lawyers represent are in-land refugee claimants. They can either make their claim at the port of entry and retain Gerami Law PC to file their documents and represent them at their hearing, or they can come to meet with Gerami Law Canadian refugee lawyers after crossing the border.
Telling their story and preparing their narrative is often quite emotional and difficult. Refugee claimants are naturally anxious to appear before a Board Member who will ask them questions and assess their credibility. In-land Refugees in Ottawa also have the added challenge of travelling to Montreal for their refugee hearing. That is because the conservative government closed down the Immigration and Refugee Board offices here in Ottawa in 2014.
This situation remains the same today as the present government has not yet reopened the IRB offices in our nation’s capital. Ms. Arghavan Gerami, Gerami Law PC’s Founder and Managing Director has been advocating on behalf most vulnerable inland refugee claimants, such as families with small children and those suffering from disabilities, on this issue. She met with her Member of Parliament, Minister Catherine McKenna and also contacted the Minister McCallum, insisting that all refugee claimants should have equal access to make their claim and be afforded a fair hearing
Canada has a strong humanitarian tradition. Our compassion and fairness has been a source of our national pride and an important part of the Canadian identity. Our response to the Syrian refugee crisis demonstrated how strongly we share these values. Throughout the country and in Ottawa communities have mobilized to help refugees to welcome them to our country, connect with their new community, find them a new place to live, facilitate their access to medical care and provide support for their basic needs.
On his recent state visit to the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “Being open and respectful towards each other is much more powerful, as a way to defuse hatred and anger, than layering on big walls and oppressive policies”. Gerami Law PC fully supports the government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis; it illustrates that with strong leadership we can mobilize to ensure respect for the rights of all human beings. At the end of the day, everyone in every community, every adult and every child, can do a little bit with the goal of eliminating racial discrimination. It is through taking that united stance and standing firm against intolerance and mistreatment that we can work toward racial harmony and ensuring respect for human rights throughout the world.