Queen’s Law Participates in Nationwide Research-a-Thon
This past Saturday, Queen’s Law participated in the unprecedented collaborative effort of Canadian law schools. In reaction to recent immigration bans in the United States, students from McGill reached out to law schools in Canada to organize a Research-a-thon in support of the Canadian Council for Refugees. In less than 24 hours, all 22 Canadian law schools had volunteered to participate, and the national event was organized in under 72 hours. The total tally of volunteer law students across Canada was 838 participants, which included over 40 Queen’s Law student volunteers.
The Research-a-thon was directed at a potential challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement held between Canada and the United States. Each law school was given a different research question to investigate over 12hours and to summarize its relevance for potential litigation after the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the Safe Third Country Agreement in 2008. The STCA designates the US as a safe country for refugees. The STCA provides that if a refugee lands in the US first, that refugee cannot seek asylum in Canada at a land border, and will be sent back to the US. In light of the recent executive orders imposing a “Muslim-ban” in the US, there is higher potential danger for a refugee being sent back to the US after trying to enter Canada.
An American Federal Judge in Seattle struck down the so-called “Muslim-ban” on Friday, February 3rd, stating that it should be suspended across the country and President Trump’s orders effectively ignored. That decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit on Sunday. That decision is not at the heart of what Canadian law students were working for. Challenging the STCA was about spotlighting the STCA as legislation that should no longer be seen as working in the best interests of vulnerable refugees. Regardless of the “Muslim-ban” being suspended, considering the political climate in the US there is little doubt that refugees are not as safe in the US as they once were. The initiative spotlighted the message that Canadians want to do more to aid refugees in coming to Canada, and that the next generation of legal minds will work in solidarity to take action against measures we believe are unjust.
The Research-a-thon was also a fundraiser for the Canadian Council for Refugees, and a measure to raise awareness of refugee issues. Students were commended by NDP MP Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East), and several Queen’s Law faculty tweeted their support. The Research-a-thon was covered by several news sources across the country, from New Brunswick to Winnipeg to Edmonton to Vancouver. It was also featured on The National on CBC on Saturday night. Law students engaged to send a message to our government that we want to do more than keep the status-quo in our refugee legislation and assistance.
If you would like to donate to the Canadian Council for Refugees in support of the research-a-thon’s efforts, please go here.
If you would like to learn more about the recent “Muslim-ban” and the executive orders, the Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program, the Faculty of Law, and the School of Policy Studies have organized a Learn-In on Wednesday, February 8th at 6pm in Mac-Corry B201.
If you would like to donate to the Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program’s sponsorship campaign to bring a Syrian refugee family to Canada to reunite with their cousin, please visit this website.
Liz Guilbault (1L) organized the Research-a-thon on behalf of Queen’s Law and is a Juris Diction Staff Writer.