Refugee advocates tell Canadian Supreme Court that U.S. isn't safe for asylum seekers

Washington and Ottawa are party to 2004 agreement by which refugees must remain in whichever of the two countries they first reach after leaving their own.

Updated: October 7, 2022 - 4:13pm

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Refugees advocates argued before the Canadian Supreme Court this week that the Safe Third Country Agreement between the U.S. and Canada is unconstitutional because the United States isn't a safe destination for asylum seekers.

"The underlying issue is whether or not the obligation to provide effective protection and to ensure effective protection is being respected by the country to which Canada is transferring refugee claimants," attorney Andrew J. Brouwer argued, according to the Washington Post. "Our submission on the evidence is that it’s not."

Washington and Ottawa are party to 2004 agreement by which refugees must remain in whichever of the two countries they first reach after leaving their own, per The Hill.

Brouwer introduced individuals who had arrived in Canada from the U.S. due to fears or experience of persecution or changes in political policies as evidence the U.S. is not safe. He further argued that the Canadian government would violate their rights by deporting back to the U.S., which is not guaranteed to accept their resettlement, the outlet noted.

The Canadian government, however, discounted this argument and asserted before the court that the U.S. meets the conditions of a safe third country.

While the safety of refugees within the United States remains the subject of Canadian legal dispute, their status on the route into the U.S. via Mexico is much more precipitous. Migrants are subject to intense natural weather conditions, as well as the prevalence of drug and human trafficking operations.

These perils prompted the United Nations International Organization for Migration to label the U.S. border with Mexico the "deadliest land crossing in the world" earlier this year.

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