February 25, 2017

Law students support refugees in light of U.S. visa ban

Over 100 signed letters sent to Minister of Immigration

Left to right: QLRSP Executives Alyssa Moses, Kali Larsen, Stephanie Bishop and Yamen Fadel.
Credit: 
Supplied by Alyssa Moses

In the wake of the recent United States executive order on immigration, Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program (QLRSP) has penned over 100 letters to the Canadian government in support of taking action. 

QLRSP is a student run initiative that was started in 2015 through the Queen’s School of Law. The program started as a way to support the refugee community in Kingston through activities such as pot lucks and donation drives. 

However, this year the program took on more of an advocacy role in response to President Donald Trump’s platform. Alyssa Moses, Law ’18, spoke to The Journal on Wednesday about what the program has accomplished, primarily for refugees affected by the recent order. 

The 100 letter campaign, she explained, is directed at Canadian Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, and urges Hussen “to condemn President Trump’s immigration order.” 

The letters contained three prongs, beginning with the condemnation. Second, they ask to have the United States removed from the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, and for Hussen to consider taking in already-approved refugees from the American government who’ve now been barred. 

According to Moses, Hussen responded to the first and third prong before the letters were sent. 

“They aren’t going to officially condemn it and they aren’t going to take in any more refugees that they have already stated that they will for this year,” she said. The second prong is something that many lawyers will be looking into though, she added and working on “behind the scenes.” 

“It was important for us to let him know that people still care regardless of what the government’s position is. It’s important for them to know what our position is,” Moses said. The program also held a “learn in” for both undergraduate and law students which helped to explain the implications of the act and how they could get involved. 

It was important for us to let him know that people still care regardless of what the government’s position is. It’s important for them to know what our position is.

“Finally we had the research-a-thon, which is a 24-hour initiative to help support the Canadian Council for Refugees,” Moses said. 

Twenty-one out of 22 law schools in Canada participated and 40 law students at Queen’s alone completed research in intervals of four hours. 

In terms of local support, QLRSP has recently began fundraising locally through Tilt to bring a new family to Canada. QLRSP is hoping to use the money that they raise to privately sponsor more people within the community. 

“We are shocked by how quickly our own fundraising has snowballed,” Moses said. QLRSP hopes to start their own chapter within the Canadian Council of Refugees to further support research and advocacy for refugees. 

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