On Friday, the Canadian federal court ruled that the United States is not safe for asylum seekers. Their reasoning: the US is likely to violate the human rights of immigrants. The high court pointed to actions undertaken by ICE and Border Patrol along the country’s southern border to support these claims.
There, practices like detaining children and separating them from their parents have become common. These actions have horrified many onlookers, both domestically and in other countries. However, the Trump Administration continues its aggressive stance against any entering the country through what they deem are improper channels.
Case Strikes Blow to US International Reputation
The Canadian court ruling pertains to the Safe Third Country Agreement, which holds that asylum seekers must ask for assistance in the first safe country they come to. For over 15 years, this has included the US. However, under the Trump Administration, this reputation has been severely damaged.
In essence, this ruling made it so that asylum seekers at Canada’s southern border were often turned away. After all, under the STCA, America was deemed “safe,” and they should be seeking official refuge there. However, as the plaintiffs in the case noted, this was far from the case.
One plaintiff, Nedira Jemal Mustefa, described her time in a US prison as “a terrifying, isolating and psychologically traumatic experience.” Mustefa was one of many asylum seekers who was stopped at the Canadian border, and turned away back into the US.
What is the STCA?
The Safe Third Country Agreement was originally put in place to prevent “asylum shopping” by asylum seekers with the means to choose which country they could flee to. However, this led some to accuse Canada of shunting refugees off on the US.
The STCA’s original purpose was to prevent “irregular” border crossings. However, it has now become a sticking point, forcing refugees to fall on the mercy of the often-merciless US immigration system.
Canadian federal court judge Ann Marie McDonald stated in her ruling “I have concluded that imprisonment and the attendant consequences are inconsistent with the spirit and objective of the STCA and are a violation of the rights guaranteed by section 7 of the [Charter of Rights and Freedoms].”
The US will be given six months to respond to the ruling. By then, it is possible that Donald Trump is no longer president. This could mean that the US no longer has the same attitude towards immigration. I could also allow for an appeal of the court case.