Immigration Minister Hussen must take immediate steps to un-designate the U.S. as a Safe Third Country!

Canada’s refugee law is premised on the idea that Canada provides protection to those who have no other place to receive protection. On the basis of this philosophy it follows that if a refugee passes through a “safe” country on his way to Canada, the claimant could be returned to that safe country if Canada is satisfied that such a country can provide a fair refugee hearing and adequate protection.

To date, the only “Safe Third Country” Canada has entered into an agreement with is the United States. Thus, the law as it stands today, directs Canadian Immigration officers at Canada’s land borders, to return most claimants to the United States if claimant’s attempt to pass through customs and make claims in Canada.

Admittedly, few predicted Americans would elect an anti immigrant, anti Muslim anti trade leader with strong fascistic tendencies who regularly engages in falsehoods and propaganda to further his own political and economic goals. This however is the world in which we now live.

As Trump’s first week in office demonstrates, the lies and propaganda and illegal conduct is no longer theoretical. United States is a signatory to the Convention on Refugees and has almost certainly breached America’s obligations under that law by barring refugees from entry.

As noted above, the Third Safe Country agreement Canada entered into with the United states was premised on an understanding that refugees could gain access to a fair refugee hearing if they were returned to the United States and if found to be Convention Refugees would be granted protection.

However, all the evidence indicates that the underlying assumptions about American treatment of refugees no longer holds true. It can no longer be said that the United States is a safe country.

Demand For Action

Canada must take immediate and concrete steps to ensure not a single refugee attempting to come to Canada via the United States is turned away by undertaking the following:

1) Minister Hussen must immediately issue a direction to all border officers that, until further notice, Canada will not enforce the Third Safe Country provisions with the United States.

2) Minister Hussen must immediately undertake an assessment under s.102(2) of the Act to determine whether the United States remains in compliance with the factors which entitle it to be designated a safe Country.

3)  In the event the s.102(2) review discloses that the United States no longer complies with the requirements of a Safe Country, the Minister take immediate steps to un-designate the United states as a Safe Country.