Asylum seekers are forced to cross the border at unofficial points of entry due to a controversial agreement between the United States and Canada.
The number of asylum seekers entering Canada at unofficial points along the country’s border with the United States has hit its highest level since 2017, federal police data shows, as Ottawa prepares to protect The treaty denies entry to most people arriving at official ports of entry.
Reuters news agency on Tuesday reported that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had intercepted 23,358 asylum seekers pass Canada at informal entry points during the first eight months of the year.
This is 13% more than the full year of 2017, the year the Canadian government first started tracking the numbers amid an increase in informal border acts, particularly in Roxham Roadlinks the Canadian province of Quebec and the US state of New York.
University of Ottawa immigration law professor Jamie Chai-Yun Liew told Reuters the numbers could be related to an increase in demand after Canada lifted coronavirus-related restrictions at the border. “I think it’s like any travel: People are moving again,” she said.
The report comes just days before the Canadian government is set up before the Supreme Court of Canada to defend a bilateral agreement with the United States has come under widespread criticism from human rights groups.
Signed in 2002, the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) obliges asylum seekers to claim protection in their first country of arrival, the US or Canada.
The idea underpinning the agreement is that both countries are “safe” and allow everyone access to fair refugee status determination systems. In practice, that means most people who try to claim at a Canadian port of entry are come back go to USA.
But Canadian law allows asylum seekers to apply for one-time protection in Canada – and this loophole has pushed thousands of people to make the sometimes dangerous journeys across the 6,416-kilometre US-Canada land border ( 3,987 miles) in recent years.
Canada’s highest court will hear a legal challenge against the STCA on October 6, rights groups involved in the case said.
They argue that the US is not a safe country for refugees, and argue that the agreement violates Canada’s constitution, known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as international law. . Human rights advocates also say it puts asylum seekers at risk by forcing them to make more dangerous journeys to cross the border.
On October 6, Canada’s Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of the Safe Third Country Agreement! @AmnestyNowthe @CCC_CCE and the Refugee Council of Canada are welcoming the decision following a long history of legal challenges. For more information #EndtheSTCA pic.twitter.com/zY0QxdY7zD
– Canadian Council for Refugees (@ccrweb) September 27, 2022
“Because the agreement only applies at official ports of entry, many refugees have been forced to cross the border between ports of entry, sometimes under dangerous conditions,” said the Refugee Council of Canada and Other groups seeking to end STCA said in a statement in December.
“Withdrawing from the Agreement will not only ensure that Canada meets its Charter and its legal obligations, but it will also allow people to express themselves in an orderly manner at ports of entry, ending the need to unusual.”
However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government defended the STCA, saying it helped “ensure that our common border [with the US] still well managed”.
“Canada remains committed to maintaining a fair and compassionate refugee protection system and STCA remains a comprehensive vehicle for compassionate, fair and orderly processing of asylum claims at the border. mainland Canada-United States,” it speak last year.