Downtown Legal Services — University of Toronto

Statement on Trump’s Executive Actions and the Quebec mosque attack

For an updated list of opportunities to engage with groups doing meaningful work on these issues, jump to the bottom of this page.

We are deeply disturbed by the Executive Orders issued by U.S. President Donald Trump concerning preclusion and detention of Latin American migrants along the southern U.S. border (82 FR 8793), persons born in certain Muslim-majority countries (82 FR 8977), and undocumented persons already inside the U.S. (82 FR 8799), together with the ongoing implementation and enforcement of these orders by officers of the U.S. government. We condemn and mourn these acts of racist exclusion, just as we condemn and mourn the murders of Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Boubaker Thabti, who were shot in an act of terror and hatred as they prayed peacefully in their Quebec City mosque last weekend.

Downtown Legal Services was founded over 40 years ago so that law students at the University of Toronto could assist marginalized people in our city. Today, our clinic’s client community stretches across borders and around the globe, as we work to reunite families and seek justice for refugees, migrant workers, and international students alike. We stand with them, just as we stand with our many allies, our fellow legal clinics, partner agencies, and movements that have mobilized in the face of these oppressive events. We support the demands that they have made through the National Days of Action Against Islamophobia, White Supremacy & Deportations.

We applaud the tireless work of clinical faculty and law students throughout the U.S. in cooperation with the American Civil Liberties Union and its partners to provide emergency legal services for those facing detention and deportation at major airports this week. We are also proud to of the over 200 Canadian law professors – including those from our own University of Toronto – who have called on the Canadian government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Staff and students at DLS, as well as our colleagues with the Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program and our allies with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and the Canadian Council for Refugees, will continue working to challenge discrimination and demand an end to both the Safe Third Country Agreement and the Designated Country of Origin regime, just as we have for the past several years. Our clients lived the risks and felt the dangers of these policies long before President Trump’s actions brought them into the public spotlight. We therefore acknowledge that our deep sense of injustice in response to these actions comes from our clients’ stories of failure, success, suffering, and relief. They continue to teach us what justice is, and we are privileged to learn from them what the law ought to be.

If you are reading this and find yourself asking how you can engage further with these issues and work in partnership with communities directly affected by current refugee and migration policy, we have attempted to list some of the related projects and opportunities of which we are aware:

  • Tonight (Friday) the IHRP and DLS alumnus Petra Molnar are facilitating a panel at UofT’s Centre for Ethics entitled “Are Refugees Welcome Here?” on Friday, February 3, 2017 from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm in the George Ignatieff Theatre at 15 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON

  • Protest on the National Days of Action Against Islamophobia, White Supremacy & Deportations, which include a demonstration planned for Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm outside the U.S. Consulate at 360 University Avenue, Toronto, ON (for a list of similar events planned across Canada, click here)
    ***Pre-rally: DLS students are meeting at 11:00 a.m. that morning in the Rowell Room to make signs and head down to the demonstration together. Members of the law school community are welcome to join us!

  • Sign the Broadbent Institute’s petition calling on the Trudeau government to denounce Trump’s actions, lift the cap on private refugee sponsorship, offer status to those affected, and suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement

  • Monday the Faculty of Law is hosting a panel entitled “Law in the Age of Trump” on Monday, February 6, 2017 from 4:10 pm to 5:30 pm in the Moot Court Room (J250)

  • Next Friday the IHRP and a number of departments and faculties at UofT are hosting a panel at the law school entitled “Bordering Injustice: How Should We Respond to Trump’s Ban?” on Friday, February 10, 2017 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the Moot Court Room (J250)

  • Volunteer with the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to help refugees fleeing places that are directly targeted by Trump’s Executive Orders (click here; see SSP Toronto and Law Student sections)

  • We will continue to update this list as we become aware of related resources and opportunities to get involved.