Canada defends "Safe Third Country" pact with U.S. as court wraps up




  • In US
  • 2019-11-08 23:22:45Z
  • By Reuters

By Anna Mehler Paperny

Nov 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Friday denied that the rights of any refugees are threatened by a U.S.-Canada agreement that compels asylum seekers trying to cross the border into Canada to first apply for sanctuary in the United States.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two neighbors, asylum seekers at a formal border crossing traveling in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the country they first arrived in.

Lawyers for unnamed refugees who had been turned away at the Canadian border are challenging the agreement, saying the United States does not qualify as a "safe" country under U.S. President Donald Trump.

Asylum seekers Canada turned back faced indefinite detention and solitary confinement in the United States with often little access to legal counsel, refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said on Monday.

The Canadian government argued in its submission that its "continued reliance on the regime is lawful and meets its Charter and international law obligations," however.

"There's no rights at stake here," government lawyer Lucian Gregory told the federal court.

The court challenge comes as Canada seeks to stem the human tide of asylum seekers that has flowed into the country over the past three years. Trump was elected in 2016 after promising in his campaign to crack down on illegal immigration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has changed eligibility rules and wants to expand the Safe Third Country agreement so that it applies to the entire border, not just official border crossings.

Refugee lawyer Leigh Salsberg argued the U.S. system was especially unsafe for women because many U.S. immigration judges don't regard gender-based violence as grounds for a refugee claim as they do in Canada, meaning that someone who might qualify for refugee status in Canada might be deported from the United States back to their country of origin.

Canada countered that many women have obtained refugee status in the United States and there are enough checks and balances to eliminate any dangers.

Week-long arguments wrapped up on Friday, with the judge expected to render her decision on whether to maintain or suspend the agreement at an undetermined point in the future.

Immigration and Refugee specialist Robert Falconer said suspending the agreement "would have huge implications" for the Canada-U.S. relationship.

"(The Trump administration) might take that to be more of an insult. But the administration might not be turned off by that because it means more people leaving the United States to come to Canada," he said.

More than 50,000 people have illegally crossed the Canada-U.S. border to file refugee claims over the past three years, walking over ditches and on empty roads along the world's longest undefended border.

Some asylum seekers have told Reuters they might have stayed in the United States had it not been for Trump's immigration rhetoric and policies. (Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny Editing by Denny Thomas and Sonya Hepinstall)

COMMENTS

More Related News

2020 election: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren shares her views on current issues
2020 election: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren shares her views on current issues

We asked presidential candidates questions about issues facing the country. Here's what Elizabeth Warren had to say about climate change, gun control, health care and other issues.

U.S. Increased Sea Patrols to Send Message to China, Defense Secretary Says
U.S. Increased Sea Patrols to Send Message to China, Defense Secretary Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is conducting more patrols in the South China Sea to send a signal to China that it intends to maintain freedom in the area that's crucial for global trade, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.Esper said at a media briefing in Manila the U.S. "rejects attempts by any nation to use coercion or intimidation to advance international interests at the expense of others."He also urged nations with South China Sea claims to take a public position and assert sovereign rights to get China "on the right path.""The clear signal we're trying to send is not that we're opposing China per se, but we all stand for international law, and that we think China should abide by...

U.S. to change migration rules in a bid to send asylum seekers elsewhere
U.S. to change migration rules in a bid to send asylum seekers elsewhere

The Trump administration is set to harden the rules this week on those allowed to seek asylum in the United States, as it attempts to stem a wave of migration on its southern border with Mexico. In a fast-track regulation set to publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the administration has created

Is America ready for a gay president? Buttigieg surge poses question
Is America ready for a gay president? Buttigieg surge poses question

As young Democrat Pete Buttigieg emerges as a genuine contender in the 2020 White House race, his rise poses the question of whether America is ready for an openly gay president. When Buttigieg announced in January that he was considering a presidential run, few had heard of the 37-year-old outside the small Indiana city of South Bend where he is mayor. "Mayor Pete" -- as he likes to be known -- has drawn a surge of fundraising, and over the weekend topped a poll in Iowa, which votes first in the Democratic nominating contest.

Russia offers job to Maria Butina, woman convicted by U.S. of being an agent
Russia offers job to Maria Butina, woman convicted by U.S. of being an agent

In her first public appearance since being deported by U.S. authorities who had jailed her for being a Russian agent, Maria Butina was on Monday offered a job by Moscow to defend Russians imprisoned abroad. During an event for the media, Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, offered Butina, 31, a job working for her commission. Butina, who flew back to Russia on Oct. 26 after being deported, did not say whether she would accept the offer made at what she called her first public appearance since she was mobbed by wellwishers in front of the media at the airport on her arrival home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US