Quantcast
Connect with us

Chaos is coming to the US-Canada border

Published

on

A recent decision by the United States against victims of domestic violence has doomed the Canadian government’s attempts to stem the flow of would-be refugees flooding into Quebec from New York.

The short-term consequences will be more chaos at the border and in the policy units of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency. The long-term consequences will be more tension between Ottawa and Quebec City, and better fortunes for the Conservative Party.

This wasn’t a deliberate attack. Canada is just collateral damage in the U.S. war on immigration.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced June 11 that victims of domestic violence will no longer be able to claim asylum in the U.S. even if authorities in their home country are unable or unwilling to protect them.

No asylum for domestic abuse victims

Specifically, he overturned an immigration appeals court ruling that granted asylum to a woman who suffered domestic abuse and who could not get protection from authorities in her own country of El Salvador.

How does this relate to Canada?

ADVERTISEMENT

Sessions’ proclamation puts U.S. refugee policy in direct conflict with the refugee policy of Canada.

Canada turns back would-be-refugees who arrive from the U.S. because, in theory, the two countries have similar asylum systems based on similar values and international law.

The 2002 Safe Third Country Agreement rests on three pillars: That both countries follow two United Nations treaties, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1984 Convention on Torture; that both have administrative systems that fairly and properly evaluate refugee claims; and that both respect human rights and have an independent and impartial judicial system.

Sneaking into Canada

The agreement requires would-be refugees seek asylum in the U.S. if they land there first, but there are exceptions. One way around the law is to sneak into Canada and ask for asylum without crossing at an official border.

ADVERTISEMENT

This rule applies to almost anyone who is in the U.S. regardless of how they got there. For example, Central Americans may have entered the U.S. illegally after walking through Mexico. Nigerians may have flown in with a study visa or tourist visa.

In some cases, people may have been in the U.S. legally for years. Realizing they will be killed if they go home, they then come to Canada for protection because they think they have a better chance winning a refugee claim here than in the U.S. Some may even have applied for refugee status in the U.S. and been rejected.

(For example, the Salvadoran woman that Sessions said couldn’t file a refugee claim would have a very good chance in Canada if she came here — but only if she sneaked into the country. If she showed up at an official border crossing, she would be turned back to the United States.)

Crossings increased after Trump’s win

It used to be rare that people sneaked across the border to avoid the Safe Third Country Agreement so they could ask for asylum in Canada, but that changed after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, more than 18,000 people crossed fields, ditches and streams to reach Canada without being screened at an official border station. Most of them crossed from New York into Quebec.

The Quebec government was not amused. It complained about the cost of sheltering the asylum seekers and popular opinion turned against the flood of would-be refugees.

At the same time, internal polling showed Canadians in general were becoming less sympathetic to immigration, partly because of the influx of irregular refugee claimants.

Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen moved quickly to try to reverse the trend with a multinational publicity campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

Opposition MPs have seized on the issue, hammering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to turn back all refugee claimants who come to Canada from the U.S., even if they don’t cross at an official border.

Trudeau urged to quit agreement

On the other side, many of Trudeau’s allies have urged him to abandon the Safe Third Country Agreement, saying the U.S. no longer protects refugees as it should. Even members of the Liberal government that originally signed the agreement are urging Trudeau to suspend it.

Immigration lawyer Peter Edelmann predicted that Sessions’ ruling will force Canada to act.

“This announcement makes it clear that the minister needs to reconsider if the U.S. is a safe third country,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is clear that for a woman who is facing violence and has a credible fear, sending her to the U.S. is not sending her to a safe place. There appears to be no argument that the U.S. is a safe third country for that claimant.”

Before this week, Trudeau seemed more inclined to toughen the border and the agreement than to abandon it.

Hussen recently mused about changing the Safe Third Country Agreement so that Canada could automatically reject asylum seekers even if they didn’t enter Canada at an official border crossing. The new system would rely on fingerprints and eye scans taken when people first arrived in the U.S. and then made what are now called “irregular crossings.”

It’s messy

So, it’s messy. But Sessions just made it much messier by flat-out promising to return women to homes and countries where they are likely to be beaten and even killed.

ADVERTISEMENT

There are other areas of refugee law where the two countries diverge, but this is one the Liberal government will not be able to ignore.

The prime minister has staked the moral authority of his government on gender equality. From the gender-balanced cabinet (remember “Because it’s 2015”?) to the G7 focus on female empowerment and economic equality, raising the status of women has been the signature value of his government.

If Trudeau abandons the Safe Third Country Agreement to allow more refugees to enter at the border, he will be going against the trend of public opinion in Canada and handing the Conservative Party a ready-made issue for the next federal election.

If he strengthens the Safe Third Country Agreement, he will knowingly risk the lives of women who are hunted in their own homelands.

ADVERTISEMENT

If he does nothing, the flow of asylum seekers sneaking into Canada will increase, and he will be labelled weak and indecisive.

Remember Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose death on a beach in Turkey helped turn the election for Trudeau? Someone in the Prime Minister’s Office must be shivering with the thought the next election could feature the body of a woman who was turned away from Canada because we consider the United States a safe country.

The ConversationChaos is coming.

By Kelly Toughill, Associate Professor, University of King’s College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

Published

on

A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

Published

on

Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

Published

on

Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link