The Safe Third Country Agreement

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For all other countries that could be classified as safe third countries in the future, this situation has changed with the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 on a platform particularly hostile to migrants and the announcement by his government in 2017 of the end of the term of temporary protection status (GST). While the largest group of people receiving GST was from El Salvador (approximately 200,000), the name also included nearly 60,000 Haitians who have been living and working in the United States since a devastating earthquake in their country in 2010. McDonald suspended his decision for six months to give Parliament a chance to respond. The agreement is maintained during this period. Agreement with El Salvador: The Salvadoran government has agreed to take in asylum seekers returned from the United States. Under the agreement, any asylum seeker who is not a national of El Salvador could be returned to El Salvador and forced to seek asylum there. Federal Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the agreement violated part of the Canadian Charter of Rights that states that laws or actions of the state that encroached on life, liberty and security must be consistent with the principles of fundamental justice. Under the Safe-Third Country (STCA) agreement, asylum seekers arriving in an official Canada-U.S.-U.S. crossing point, which goes both directions, is returned and invited to seek asylum in the first country they arrived in.

Under the Third Country Security Agreement, in effect since December 2004, Canada and the United States declare the other country safe for refugees and close the door to most refugees at the U.S.-Canada border. The agreements effectively prevent migrants from accessing the US asylum system and require them to seek protection in countries facing high rates of violence and poverty, which lack the institutions and infrastructure to help large numbers of refugees, and which face serious socio-economic, economic and environmental problems. In addition, many Honduran, El Salvadoran and Guatemalan citizens are fleeing these conditions in their own countries in the hope of seeking asylum in the United States. The agreement on the security of third-country nationals is not a treaty requiring congressional approval and can be signed and adopted unilaterally by the President. This has allowed the Trump administration to bypass Congress and the courts, impose new restrictions on asylum seekers, limit migration to the United States, and re-deliver the obligation to take asylum seekers to other countries to the United States. To date, the United States is the only country to be designated by Canada as a safe third country under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The government appealed McDonald`s decision and argued that there would be “irreparable harm” to the rule of law and the common good if the border agreement were overturned. Persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal past are prohibited from seeking the protection of refugees, regardless of how they enter the country. The government said the abolition of the agreement would result in an “inflow” of asylum seekers at the border, making it more difficult for several levels of government to maintain the existing refugee system, including the provision of housing and other social services. Agreements have been reached on the safety of third-country nationals to share responsibility for assisting asylum seekers and to ensure that they are safe and protected from the damage they are fleeing.

The Trump administration`s repeated attacks on the legal immigration system – as well as the president`s hateful rhetoric about asylum seekers – show that the administration does not recognize or intend to criticize its responsibility to protect asylum seekers. A safe third country is a country in which a person crossing that country could have applied for refugee protection.

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