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Law student “research-a-thon” assists refugees

It was no ordinary Saturday for more than 90 Western Law students.

Motivated to lend their time and talent in light of the proposed travel bans imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on seven majority-Muslim countries this past February, the students took part in a research marathon to assist the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).

It was part of a collective effort of law students from across the country to create research materials for the CCR in order for it to launch a challenge to the safe third country agreement.

The agreement, which came into effect in 2004, prevents refugees from seeking asylum in both Canada and the U.S. Those seeking protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive. Because of this, refugees thrown into limbo as a result of the U.S. travel ban cannot be offered asylum in Canada.

Students Yasmin Sattarzadeh and Nusaiba Al-Azem along with Professor Asad Kiyani coordinated the research initiative at the school.

Sattarzadeh said she felt a personal connection to the cause because her mother was a political refugee from Iran.

“The events across the border under President Donald Trump have been jarring, unsettling and unjust,” she said. “We were happy we could use the tools we learned in class to participate in this cause.”

The students’ research aimed to create a clear articulation of the reasons why the United States is not a “safe nation” for the purpose of making a refugee claim.

“Participating in the research-a-thon has been the highlight of my time at Western Law,” Sattarzadeh said. “Every individual rightly deserves an advocate, and refugee rights are human rights.”

This article appeared in the Western Law 2017 Alumni Magazine.
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