How Canadian Court Ruling Could Impact Migration Patterns in Northern New England

On NPR’s New England News Collaborative it was reported that in July Canada’s Federal Court ruled the United States is no longer a safe place for refugees.  The court condemned the treatment of asylum seekers at U.S. detention centers and said the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two countries in now unconstitutional.

The agreement in question says both Canada and the United States are safe for refugees.  That means when someone seeks asylum in either country, they have to stay there – the first safe country they arrived in.  If they try to cross from one country to the other, they’re immediately sent back.  But the Canadian Federal Court ruling would change that.  The court states that sending refugees back to the U.S. is a violation of Canada’s human rights charter and says refugees should instead be allowed to pass over the border, possibly impacting migration routes in northern New England.

“A very close ally of ours – another country that’s been known for its human rights protections – is recognizing that this country, the United States, is no longer a safe place for people,” says Erin Jacobson, a professor and director of the immigration clinic at Vermont School.  “That we’re not honoring our International and domestic obligations to protect refugees.”

Independent producer Lorne Matalon reported this story and asked both the U.S. Department o Justice and Department of Homeland Security to comment on the Canadian Court’s ruling.  The DOJ declined comment; DHS did not repost.

The government of Canada is appealing the Federal Court Ruling.  The Safe Third Country Agreement remains in effect until that appeal is settled.