With the situation for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border becoming harsher every day, we are eager to support and collaborate with organisations working on the ground in any way that we can.
The Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants Calls on the Provincial Government to Reverse Its Plan to Eliminate the Transition Child Benefit (TCB).
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has announced plans to eliminate Transition Child Benefit (TCB) as of November 1, 2019. TCB provides families with up to a maximum of $230 per child per month. This monthly amount is a lifeline to ensure that children are protected and cared for. Losing this benefit will have devastating consequences, not only for refugee families, but also for other children whose parents are on Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and currently receiving TCB.
Since some families are not eligible for the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) or the closely-aligned Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the Transition Child Benefit was set up to ensure that the children of those parents who are receiving Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) but ineligible for other child benefits would not be without money for food, clothing and basic needs. The removal of TCB stands as a threat to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable families across the province. Refugee claimants will be disproportionately affected if TCB is eliminated, since they are not eligible to receive other benefits for their children based on their immigration status.
Learn about the consequences of the Ontario Government’s failure to provide support for the basic needs of children.
To read the complete letter please click here.
The letter is signed by members of the Ontario Coalition of Service Providers:
The Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants
Adam House, Toronto
Angela Rose House, Windsor
Carty House, Ottawa
Casa El Norte, Fort Erie
Casa Maria Refugee Homes, Peterborough
Chez Marie, Fort Erie
Christie Refugee Welcome Centre, Toronto
COSTI Immigrant Services, Toronto
FCJ Refugee Centre, Toronto
Fort Erie Multi-Cultural Centre, Fort Erie
Matthew House, Fort Erie
Matthew House, Ottawa
Matthew House, Toronto
Matthew House, Windsor
Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, Kitchener
Micah House, Hamilton
Quaker Refugee Committee, Toronto
Romero House, Toronto
Silas Hill Home for Refugees, Toronto
Sojourn House, Toronto
The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Toronto
U.S. President Donald Trump regularly asserts that the United States is under attack by foreign invaders and that he is the only one willing to stop them. Who are these invaders? Central American asylum seekers, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Amnesty International calls this region “one of the world’s most violent places, with more people killed there than in most conflict zones globally.” Médecins Sans Frontières says that the “violence suffered by people in (these countries) is comparable to the experience in war zones where MSF has been present for decades.”
Much of this violence is caused by criminal gangs, for whom kidnapping, extortion and murder are standard practice. Gender-based violence — including sexual violence and intimate partner violence — is also extremely common. Law enforcement officials in these countries are often complicit in both gang violence and gender-based violence. Even where they’re not complicit, they are generally ineffective in stopping the violence.
Not surprisingly, hundreds of thousands of people have fled these countries, exercising their right to seek asylum.
Raftsmen set off across the Suchiate River carrying unregulated people from Guatemala into Talisman, Mexico in June 2019 headed ultimately for the United States. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
The Trump administration, however, has done everything it can to discourage these asylum seekers from coming to U.S., despite international legal obligations to provide protection to refugees.
Some of the harsher measures include: forcibly separating asylum-seeking families, detaining children and adult asylum-seekers in inhumane conditions, militarizing the southern border, firing tear gas across the border at women and children asylum seekers, declaring that people facing gang violence or gender-based violence do not qualify for asylum, and, of course, building (or at least talking about building) a border wall.
Inspired by Canada
The United States has even drawn inspiration from Canada in its bid to block the arrival of Central American asylum seekers, using the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) as a model.
Under the STCA, Canada returns to the U.S. most refugee claimants who present themselves at the border. The United States is seeking to persuade Mexico and Guatemala to agree to similar arrangements that would allow the U.S. to send asylum-seekers who make it to the United States back to those countries. Absent such agreements, the U.S. has used threats of tariffs to induce both countries to block asylum seekers in transit with the aim of preventing them from getting to the United States in the first place.
The U.S. has also announced that, in contravention of international law, it will no longer provide asylum to most applicants who travelled through any country where they could have sought refugee protection — essentially all Central American asylum seekers.
In all of this, Canada has been remarkably quiet. Under the STCA, Canada continues to turn away Central American refugee claimants who present themselves at an official border crossing. Canada has also initiated discussions with the U.S. about expanding the STCA to cut off other routes into the country involving irregular border crossing.
Read more: The deadly consequences of proposed Canadian asylum restrictions
Nonetheless, Central American asylum seekers who circumvent these barriers and who make it to Canada will mostly be recognized as refugees. According to statistics produced by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, the refugee claim grant rates in 2018 for these countries were: El Salvador, 72 per cent; Guatemala, 64 per cent; and, Honduras, 57 per cent.
So when the Trump administration attacks this group of asylum seekers and denies them protection, they are attacking people who mostly meet Canada’s refugee definition. Canada must not be complicit in these attacks against refugees.
At a minimum, Canada should not be sending refugee claimants from these countries back to the United States under the STCA. The U.S. is simply not safe for them.
But Canada should do more than that.
Canada should stand up for international law by condemning the American assault on this group of refugees.
And Canada should do its part by helping refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras get around the barriers that the U.S. is placing in their path by bringing them to the country under refugee resettlement programs.
Increasing the number of orientation sessions in Toronto to help refugee claimants prepare for their hearings
We are excited to announce the increasing number of orientation sessions in Toronto to help refugee claimants prepare for their hearings. A Ready Tour is a refugee hearing orientation session and has become a key resource for unrepresented claimants. After the legal aids cuts we see an increasing number of participants with no legal representative.
- As you know Ready Tours are scheduled twice a month. However, due the increased number of registrations, the program will expand. Starting in August there will be one session per week depending on the demand.
- Besides the expansion, the session also will be facilitated in other languages depending on the participants needs. The first session is scheduled is in Spanish on August 30
- This is the calendar for the upcoming sessions:
August 30th pilot session in Spanish
For registrations just send the above information to email@example.com
- First name:
- Last name:
- E mail:
- Telephone number:
- Country of origin:
- Date of claim :(Month/Year)
- Hearing date :(Month/Day/Year)
- Do you have a legal representative?
- Who referred you to the Ready Tour, how did you learn about it?
- What do you want to learn during the Ready Tour?
- If you want to refer a group of participants from your agency, just fill out the following chart with the information and send it to me:
|First name||Last name||Country of origin||Refugee claim date||Refugee Hearing date||E mail
(this is optional if you want me to send confirmation directly to your clients
I am sending the current flyer we are using. I will send the new one as soon as it is ready.
Thanks to each one of you for joiun us during our street party .
One more year we had the opportunity to celebrate not only the neighbourhood’s diversity – but also Toronto’s, as well as Canada’s – welcoming arms
“We are very grateful to all our supporters for helping us to keep walking with refugees and other precarious populations during 2018. Thanks to you we were able to provide information for refugee claimants and for people who need support in regards to their immigration status and how they can further their situation in Canada.
Access to Education was one of the main achievements for us. We were able to send 17 youth with precarious immigration status to post-secondary education. In general the FCJ Youth Network and the Access to Education team have had an exceptional year, and look forward to the new projects on 2019.
The increase in the number of people arriving in Toronto continued to impact FCJ Refugee Centre and the City in general. The pressures on the City’s emergency shelter system included an increased number of refugee claimants needing shelter during 2018.We continued working with the Refugee Houses, the City of Toronto, refugees and migrants to find shelter. Also we partnered with St. Clair Multi-Faith Affordable Housing, we were able to secure funding for a housing worker and a housing allowance. We were able to accommodate five families, one of which was a group of five young siblings from Somalia. In our own houses we managed to shelter 50 women and 6 children in 2018. The majority of them were from Uganda, Nigeria, Colombia, Kenya, Mexico, Cuba, Croatia, and Egypt.
Another large program that we keep running is the Primary Care Clinic, serving people who don’t have access to healthcare. We had a psychiatrist assisting people with mental health issues. The psychiatrist was also providing refugee claimants with psychological reports and assessments for their claim.
Public education and the accessibility of information is a key part of the services we provide. The programs included workshops about human trafficking given in rural areas. FCJ has expanded the anti-human trafficking network, and one of our most successful services was the Migrant Worker’s Mobile program. We have a phone number so migrant workers can communicate and contact us directly. We have been helping people mostly who are victims of labour trafficking, and we do this through trainings, outreach, and working with a network of other organizations throughout Ontario.”
Find out more about the co-directors’ reflections on the services and programs implemented by FCJ Refugee Centre during 2018 : click here
LEARN ABOUT :
¬ Housing Report
¬ Writing Workshops
¬ Actions against legal aid cuts
¬ Foreign workers program changes
Displaced persons and precarious migrants are particularly vulnerable to a range of other human rights violations that can then impact their right to housing. They are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, racism and xenophobia, which can further interfere with their ability to secure sustainable and adequate living conditions. People who have been forcibly displaced will often have suffered trauma during their journey, and will have lost familiar coping strategies and support mechanisms. Often unable in practice or because of their legal status to rent adequate accommodation, many are forced to live in overcrowded and insecure conditions. These challenges are compounded by Toronto’s ongoing housing crisis, which is a long-standing problem.
Many of our clients facing this situation came to FCJ Refugee Centre looking for support. The following report shares our findings on the challenges that refugee claimants and precarious migrants face in finding a place to stay in the city, whether that is a temporary shelter or more permanent housing through the rental market. We are grateful to those who shared their stories with us. We wanted to bring attention to these issues as these vulnerabilities are not given the due attention they deserve, either in the media or in government policies.
To read the report click here :
We had an amazing evening. Thank you to all our supporters!!
Sandra Patricia Loboa
Youth in Motion
FCJ Youth Network
FCJ WOmen’s Jewellery Group
SAVE THE DATE! April 26
We are organizing an evening of visual art, music and stories in celebration of Refugee Rights Month. Through this event we are going to honour the contributions made by refugees, inviting them to showcase their works and artistic talents. Also it will be an opportunity to raise funds in support of the work that the FCJ Refugee Centre does.
For 28 years the FCJ Refugee Centre has been championing the rights and protection of refugees, immigrants and precarious migrant populations. With a client-centered, community-driven approach we provide holistic services to vulnerable migrants.
Please find the details below:
Date: April 26th, 2019
Venue: Matter Gallery
Address: 344 Westmoreland Ave N #104a, Toronto, ON M6H 3A7
Time: From 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
For more information please contact Marianna Tzabiras, Research and Resource Development by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to the Ready Tour participants for taking the time to share your experience at the Ready Tour:
READY TOUR TESTIMONY
Ready Tour was a beautiful and informative experience that I will forever pass down to any refugee coming into Canada.
I heard about it for the first time from my Counselor at the Shelter at a point of exit when I secured an apartment. I decided to give it a shot. I sent a mail requesting for ‘Ready Tour’ to FCJ and I was scheduled for the tour. I got there only to find out that I wasn’t the only one that got the appointment.
The tour was very revealing and informative. It is designed to help refugees with their coming up hearing, to build up a little confidence in them and to reduce the rate of ‘Appeal’ after the hearing.
The Tour like I said was revealing because it revealed that the hearing for the claimants is not a criminal case and it’s just going to be the claimant, the Judge and the claimant’s lawyer.
Well organized and there was room for all to ask questions and interpreters were also available to those that needed it. At the end of the session, I had a sense of what my hearing day is going to look like, who to expect on that day and how to prepare myself.
My Hearing went well and coincidentally, I had mine at the same room where the tour was actually conducted but the truth is I never had scold feet all through the Hearing and this I believe was because of the Readiness I had with FCJ (Ready Tour).
I must confess the team at FCJ are really fantastic. So grateful that I met them and I encouraged immigrants to seek to know the ‘How to’ once they arrive into Canada and FCJ is one of the places to visit for knowledge.
You are welcome to attend the Ready Tour. For more information and registration please click here:
The Ready Tour is a free program for refugee claimants that allow them to visit an actual hearing room and learn about how to be ready for their refugee hearing.