Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) released today a comprehensive report titled Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion. The result of extensive research and fact-finding investigations led by HIRC affiliates Dr. Efrat Arbel (SJD ’12) and Alletta Brenner (JD ’14), the report finds that Canada is systematically closing its borders to asylum seekers, and failing in its refugee protection obligations under domestic and international law.

This report shows a deteriorating trend in Canada, and is quite disturbing.” The report examines Canadian border measures designed to intercept and deflect “undesirable travellers,” including asylum seekers, before they set foot on Canadian soil and make a claim for refugee protection. It also examines the U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), a bilateral agreement implemented by Canada and the United States to exercise more control over their shared border. In effect since 2004, the Agreement forces refugee claimants to seek protection in the first country they reach – either the U.S. or Canada. The report finds that the STCA has triggered a sharp decline in asylum claims made at the Canadian border.

The report concludes the STCA is not achieving the goal of protecting the border.

In addition to its criticism of Canadian border policy, the report identifies key aspects of the U.S. asylum system that do not meet international protection standards and put asylum seekers at risk, including misuse and overuse of immigration detention and expedited removal before claimants have a fair chance to prove their asylum claim.

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