Monday, August 16, 2010

The Real Humanitarian Thing to do is Often Just Say NO

Last week, a rag-tag cargo ship with almost 500 Tamils from Sri Lanka docked at a Canadian Navy base in British Columbia. The people on board were trying to sneak into Canada undetected, but thankfully our authorities were more than aware of their presence.

Many of the 490 people on the ship were sick, and carrying highly deadly and infectious diseases. Had they managed to cross into Canada undetected, they would have put many lives at risk.

They are all claiming refugee status, saying that they fled their homes because their lives were in danger.

Federal and local authorities are investigating as to whether the cargo ship is part of a people smuggling operation linked the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization which has been banned in Canada, the States and many other western countries.

People smugglers often lure poor people in third world countries to first world countries (such as Canada and the States), saying for a small percentage of their earnings, they will earn their citizenship. However, once here, these unsuspecting people find themselves working in prostitution, drug trafficking, weapons shipping, or as slaves to crime family members, for little or no pay.

Today, rumors spread as other cargo ships, crammed with men, women and children – there were 50 children on the ship that docked last week – are en-route to Canada, all aboard seeking illegal entry.

Canada is known for being very friendly to people from all over the world who want to call this place home. We rarely turn away anyone, so why then, would people who wish to live here try to sneak in?

Granted, the immigration procedure to get into Canada, as with most things run by the government, is a long and tedious process – as it should be.

We have to look out for ourselves – as the Canadian Border Patrol can attest too, letting in people who carry infectious diseases could cripple this country. 

Those who bring with them weapons banned here could endanger the lives of all around them. And then there are those who are terrorists or human traffickers, bringing people in to run their crime syndicates.

Clearly, there is more here than just rubber stamping everyone that claims refugee status into the country.

Granted not everywhere around the world enjoys the freedoms we have here, but that doesn’t make it right for unscrupulous souls to sell over-priced admission on cramped ships, to sneak others into the country.

Anytime you have to sneak into something, chances are it just isn’t right.

There are Canadian embassies the world over, even in war torn Sri Lanka where the latest boatload of refugee claimants originated. The right way to come to Canada, is through official channels.

You don’t barge into someone’s home unannounced, expecting to be welcome with open arms. Why should we expect any less from those seeking to come to our country?

The Canadian government should do the right thing – check on the medical needs of all those who were on the ship, to ensure their medical needs are looked after. And then, they should be sent back to Sri Lanka, and instructed on how to apply to come here the legal and proper way.

By doing this, we aren’t shirking our humanitarian responsibilities, yet we aren’t allowing others to walk over our openness and acceptance of others either.

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