US and Canada Announce Joint Plan to Turn Away Asylum-Seekers

The transfer additional undermines the fitting to asylum and can possible drive folks to aim extra harmful border crossings.

In a transfer that critics say will push folks to aim extra harmful border crossings, the US and Canada on Friday introduced an settlement permitting each international locations to dam migrants from searching for asylum at unofficial factors of entry.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted U.S. President Joe Biden Friday in Ottawa, the place the leaders introduced the deal. The settlement will enable Canada to show again migrants at Roxham Street, a well-liked unofficial crossing between Clinton County, New York and Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec. Canada may also set up a brand new authorized refugee program for 15,000 Latin American and Caribbean migrants.

Trudeau told CNN Thursday that whereas Canada is “welcoming folks from around the globe,” the nation should “be certain that we’re doing it in accountable correct methods to proceed to have our residents constructive in the direction of immigration as Canadians all the time are.”

“Everybody has the fitting to hunt and to get pleasure from in different international locations asylum from persecution.”

Nonetheless, Stéphanie Valois, president of the Quebec Affiliation of Immigration Attorneys (AQAADI), asserted that refugees “shouldn’t be returned to a rustic the place they face severe threats to their life or freedom.”

“It appears utterly counterproductive to me,” she told CBC.

The brand new deal is an modification to the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which compels migrants to assert asylum within the first “secure” nation they attain, until they qualify for sure exceptions. The STCA permits U.S. and Canadian authorities to show away asylum-seekers at official border crossings — however not unofficial ones like Roxham Street.

François Legault, Quebec’s center-right premier, has demanded that Trudeau’s Liberal authorities resettle refugees in different Canadian provinces. Each Legault and Conservative Occasion Chief Pierre Poilievre have urged the closure of the Roxham Street crossing, which was utilized by 40,000 asylum-seekers to enter Canada final yr.

“The intention behind the sudden announcement of this deal, which was negotiated in secret, is evident: To restrict the flexibility of among the world’s most weak folks to seek out lifesaving safety in North America,” Danilo Zak, affiliate director for coverage and advocacy at Church World Service, an interdenominational Christian humanitarian group primarily based in New York Metropolis, mentioned in an announcement.

“Time and time once more, the Biden administration has taken steps to dam the motion of individuals fleeing violence and persecution,” he continued.

Zak added:

We must always not stand by whereas coverage after coverage tears aside our nation’s dedication to welcome. Given the assault on entry to authorized safety for essentially the most weak migrants arriving at our borders, it’s questionable whether or not the US nonetheless qualifies as a “secure third nation.” We urge President Biden to strongly rethink this deal and to work with Congress to revive entry to asylum and assist insurance policies that acknowledge the dignity of all these arriving at our borders.

Frantz André of the Comité d’Motion des Sans Statut (Motion Committee of the Individuals with out Standing, or CAPSS) told CityNews Montreal that “I’m afraid there could be some form of a stampede earlier than the closure of Roxham Street.”

In a separate CBC interview, André said that “we’re merely creating the worst situation doable” for migrants.

Robert Weissman, president of the patron advocacy group Public Citizen, pointed to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which each Canada and the US are signatories: “Everybody has the fitting to hunt and to get pleasure from in different international locations asylum from persecution.”

Many Latin American and Caribbean migrants are fleeing poverty and political or legal violence and repression of their residence international locations, a few of it attributable to a long time of U.S. imperial insurance policies and actions within the area. Others come from as far afield as Asia and the Center East, together with international locations like Afghanistan and Yemen which have suffered from years and even a long time of struggle waged or backed by the US.

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