Flashback Tuesday: “Murder by Decree”

In this week’s installment, we’ve dug deep into the archives to bring you this 1987 piece by Reg Whitaker lambasting the Mulroney government’s backward stance on refugees. “Murder by Decree” tells the story of how the Mulroney government—taking its cue from the Reganites to the south—concocted an immigration policy that left thousands of Central American refugee claimants at the mercy of bloodthirsty military juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador. While the article’s central thesis—deeply steeped in the politics of the cold war—may be dated, many of the issues Whitaker highlights are still relevant today. Consider, for instance, the Harper government’s vows to crack down on “human smuggling” in the wake of a recent influx of Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing the aftermath of that country’s brutal civil war.