Civil-rights and legal orgs urge Trudeau to drop asylum changes

A group of civil-society and legal organizations has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denouncing changes to asylum laws included in a Liberal budget bill tabled this week, calling them harsh and unnecessary.

The group includes Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian and B.C. civil-liberties associations and the Canadian Council for Refugees.

They say the proposed legal changes would strip crucial and hard-won human rights protections from vulnerable refugees.

The changes would prevent asylum seekers from making refugee claims in Canada if they have made similar claims in certain other countries, including the United States, a move Border Security Minister Bill Blair says is aimed at preventing ``asylum shopping.''

The letter expresses concern over the effect these changes would have on refugees and also says slipping them into an omnibus budget bill is undemocratic.

The groups are urging Trudeau to withdraw the measures, which they say will likely result in legal challenges.