Canada to Roll Back Asylum Access Per Agreement with US

    Canada to Roll Back Asylum Access Per Agreement with US
    Last updated Mar 24, 2023
    Image credit: independent


    • The US and Canada reached an agreement on Thursday to allow border officials from both countries to turn back asylum seekers traveling across their shared border without considering petitions for sanctuary.[1]
    • The agreement will expand a policy called the Safe Third Country Agreement that codifies that the US and Canada are both safe countries for refugees but that refugees must first apply for asylum in whichever country they arrive in initially.[2]
    • The agreement will move to close a loophole created by a 2004 asylum pact in which the US allowed Canada to turn migrants away at official points of entry but not at unofficial crossing points. The agreement will pertain to the entire border between the two nations and is set to go into effect this weekend.[3]
    • As part of the agreement, Canada will also accept 15K migrants from throughout the Western Hemisphere over the next year through established legal protocols.[4]
    • The US and Canada formally confirmed the agreement on Friday per remarks by President Biden in Ottawa.[5]
    • In 2022, nearly 39K asylum-seekers crossed into Quebec outside established ports of entry. Many migrants crossed using Roxham Road, a small road in northern New York that ends at the Canadian border, prompting some Canadian officials to call for harsher restrictions.[5]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    In the past few years, an overwhelming number of people have crossed the border between Canada and the US using unofficial ports of entry — taking advantage of loopholes in prior agreements and Canada's relatively liberal refugee resettlement policies. This new agreement will close loopholes that have allowed migrants to cross unlawfully.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The updated Safe Third Country Agreement violates both Canada's and US's obligations to asylum seekers. This will not stop immigration and will instead force these vulnerable people to take even more dangerous routes and could help to incentivize human trafficking. This agreement is undemocratic, dangerous, and counter to the norms of the international community.

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