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Statement from the Canadian Paediatric Society on U.S. immigration ban

Feb 6 2017

OTTAWA—Children do not choose to be refugees or immigrants. They accompany their families seeking shelter, freedom from persecution, and opportunities to contribute to society. Before leaving their home country, many children and their families experience violence, hunger, separation and other atrocities that may have long-lasting effects on their health and development. Children must be offered protection, care and support to live healthy, meaningful lives.

The recently imposed U.S. Executive Order that prevents refugees and immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States threatens the well-being of countless children, youth, and families. Many families have been separated and some have been detained. The potential harm to short- and long-term health is undeniable.

Recently, all forms of xenophobia, including the more abhorrent hate speech and racist rhetoric, are on the rise both in Canada and elsewhere. The negative and sometimes threatening tone and content of public discourse is worrisome.

In the United States, paediatricians have reported growing anxiety among undocumented immigrant children, as well as among American children concerned about their friends. Inflammatory remarks, hate speech and racist remarks have significant negative consequences on mental health and incite violence.  They must not be tolerated under any circumstances.

The Canadian Paediatric Society strongly believes that all people deserve respect—regardless of culture, faith, identity or citizenship. We believe in an inclusive, humanitarian refugee and immigration policy that supports our identity as a strong, cohesive, pluralist nation.

Although the Canadian Paediatric Society commends federal and local governments that have pledged to offer refuge to people affected by this order, more can be done.

We call on the federal government to:

  • Increase the number of refugees who will be accepted to Canada in 2017.
  • Increase the number of privately-sponsored refugees from Iraq and Syria who can come to Canada in 2017.
  • Continue to ensure that Canadians with dual citizenship from one of the seven countries affected by the U.S. ban are able to cross the U.S. border with a valid Canadian passport.
  • Suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, so that refugees refused entry into the United States can come to Canada.
  • Lead a global response to refugee resettlement.

A safe, pluralist society that celebrates diversity is essential to the health and well-being of children and youth. As the national society of paediatricians in Canada, we believe that openness and mutual respect will benefit all children and youth and the world at large.

About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Feb 6 2017