Students from Alberta's two law schools have joined a national effort to help refugees faced with uncertainty under a Donald Trump presidency.
The University of Calgary and the University of Alberta students joined about 700 others at 22 law schools across the country Saturday for a 12-hour legal research marathon.
They were studying legislation surrounding refugee law for a possible challenge of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement by the Canadian Council for Refugees.
The agreement prevents refugees from seeking asylum in Canada after arriving in the U.S., and vice versa — refugee claimants have to stay in the first country they arrive in.
In light of the recent travel ban ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump — which was temporarily halted by a federal judge — that needs to change, said first-year U of C law student Shannon Faleiro.
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"The immigration ban has been talked about in law school for the last few weeks, we talked about it in constitution class, in crime class, and just the legal aspects of it," he said. "But on another level, I'm an immigrant myself and so it hits close to home for me."
Trump issued an executive order last week barring all refugee claims for 120 days along with barring entry to the U.S. for anyone from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.
A U.S. judge ordered the ban lifted on Friday, but U.S. Justice Department officials said they plan to file an appeal of that ruling.
Challenging law, raising awareness
Along with gathering information she hopes will help refugees, U of C law student Katherine Moore says the research marathon was also a learning opportunity.
"I think it'll bring change in our legal research and I think it'll help the Canadian Council for Refugees to move forward with any legal action, but I also think it brings a huge amount of awareness to this issue," she said. "And I think that's a big part of making legislative change or any kind of change, is just having awareness."
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