President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have announced a new immigration policy affecting asylum seekers. On March 24, 2023, the two leaders met to discuss the agreement aimed at curbing irregular immigration at the U.S.-Canada border while increasing regular migration.
What does this policy mean for the thousands of people seeking asylum?
Modification of an existing agreement
Canada and the United States formed the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) in 2004. Under the STCA, applicants seeking asylum must do so within the borders of their own country. If an individual enters Canada from the U.S., they cannot apply for asylum in Canada. Similarly, individuals entering the U.S. from Canada are not eligible to claim asylum there either.
Under the new agreement, asylum seekers will be subject to stricter standards when attempting to enter Canada from the United States and vice versa. The new Canada-U.S. immigration policy has tightened restrictions on asylum seekers crossing the border. Under the new policy, any asylum seekers who lack U.S. or Canadian citizenship and are caught within 14 days of crossing will be sent back to their country of origin.
The result of these changes is an overall tightening of restrictions for asylum seekers crossing either border, making it harder for them to receive protection in a safe and secure environment.
It’s imperative that anyone seeking asylum has guidance and assistance with their application. Having someone advocate for them and prepare a strong case for why they should be granted admission provides the best chance for a positive outcome and the opportunity for a better life.