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United States is not a “Safe Third Country” anymore

Austin Campbell



United States is Not a “Safe Third Country” Anymore

The Federal Court of Canada has decided to strike off the United States from the Safe Third Country Agreement, and this could impact thousands of asylum-seekers if the change is actually implemented. The Court has ruled that turning asylum-seekers around at the border between the United States and Canada under the Safe Third Country Agreement will be considered unconstitutional.

What is the Safe Third Country Agreement?

The Safe Third Country Agreement involving Canada and the United States postulates that asylum-seekers have to claim refugee protection in the safe country that they arrive at first, but there are certain exceptions.

Since this provision came into effect back in 2004, many people have been turned away, but there has been a notable increase in the numbers after the Trump administration started targeting undocumented migrants in their country. Advocacy groups, refugees, and lawyers have been asking Canada to cut off the agreement with the United States, citing the reason that the U.S cannot be considered a safe country anymore.

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Details of the ruling:

Ann Marie McDonald, a Federal Court Judge, ruled on July 22 that the agreement is unconstitutional. Sending people back to the United States where they stand the risk of imprisonment, is a violation of the people’s rights to liberty, life, and security. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is applicable to everyone who enters Canada physically, including people who come with a refugee claim.

The final decision is yet to be taken. Canada’s justice department will take 30 days to decide if they will appeal the ruling. In case the government does not appeal, it will take six months for the ruling to come into effect. However, if the government does appeal, the decision will have to be held off until the appeal is settled in court.

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