Lush makes a stand for refugee rights

The beauty brand pushes Canada to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement as its bans ICE agents from its U.S. stores.


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Beauty brand Lush Cosmetics is calling on Canada to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. in its latest campaign, to let Canadians know that they have a role to play to ensure that the country’s policies are in line with its international human rights commitments.

“We believe that all people should enjoy freedom of movement across the world, and as long as Canada has a Safe Third Country Agreement in place with the United States, people seeking safety and security will face barriers and limitations to the protections available to them,” says Carleen Pickard, Lush’s ethical campaigns specialist.

Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, refugee claimants need to ask for refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, resulting in many would-be claimants looking to settle in Canada being forced to make their claim in the U.S., where they face a higher likelihood of being sent back to the country they are attempting to flee for their own safety.

Lush notes the campaign’s call to rescind the agreement with the U.S. is an effort to “demand equality, unity, dignity, safety and freedom for all those who migrate to North America – no exceptions.”

sanctuary-icefreesticker-landscapeIn addition to the Canadian advocacy, all of Lush’s 208 U.S. shops will display a sticker showing that they are an “ICE-Free Zone,” and Lush staff will refuse entry to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who have the intent of apprehending someone. During this campaign, Lush shop staff (and online channels) will be “encouraging customers to take action and support permanent immigration solutions that ensure safety for all, by sending an email to lawmakers. It will also encourage them to learn more about the work of Lush’s partners and purchase a piece of limited edition “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa” soap (pictured, above), where all of the sales will support migrant justice organizations.

Lush, in conjunction with non-profits and immigrant organizations like United We Dream, Community Change and Mijente, is looking to raise $350,000 USD for organizations working on the front lines to uphold human rights, regardless of status. The latest CSR effort is being amplified in its stores and through its social media channels.

“We believe that 2020 is a critical time for immigrant justice,” Pickard says. “What we’re seeing happen to migrants on a daily basis is unconscionable — the increasing harassment from ICE, children ripped from their parents, narrowing criteria for asylum and the dangerous narrative being spun about a threat to our country. It’s time we showed up for our communities and demanded safe passage for all those who express freedom of movement, no exceptions,” Pickard says.

Pickard says that while Canada’s immigration system is described as “welcoming and inclusive” – something its consumers here tend to embrace, in addition to being passionate about global violations of human rights – things like the Safe Third Country Agreement means but what happens in practice doesn’t always match the image. Given the role Safe Third Country Agreement has on the status of refugee claimants globally, Canadian consumers are in a position to affect change elsewhere.

“We are turning a blind eye to the threats the Trump administration is putting on the undocumented and immigrant communities in the United States, which goes beyond borders,” she says. “The suffering of those being turned back while fleeing violence is not an issue of nations or even political stripes, it’s a human rights issue, and we must all be able to look back in the future with the certainty that we compassionately spoke up, took action and were on the right side of history.”

Pickard says this campaign fits into Lush’s overall brand positioning because it “has always been a vocal advocate for standing up for what’s right,” and that it has campaigned on human rights, animal rights and the environment since its inception. “As an activist brand, we do more than just sell bath bombs. We believe it’s up to people and brands who have a voice to use it for good.”