The US-Canada border has taken centre stage in global politics during the past few weeks as images have cropped up showing the world’s most unprotected and largest border being illegally crossed by asylum seekers in the dead of winter. These dangerous crossings, which predominantly take place at the Quebec and Manitoba borders, continue to raise concerns over Canada’s current refugee policy that is said to suffer from a legal “loophole.”
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, individuals must claim refugee status in the first country they enter. In light of the request, the country has the discretionary power to grant or refuse the demand for refugee status. However, the agreement leaves one glaring omission: by specifying that only those who enter Canada legally that is, through a custom, can be denied refugee status, it leaves unanswered whether those who enter illegally are bound by the same rules.
For the time being, there is no consensus on the issue. Rather, opposition parties have reacted strongly, sparking disputes over what constitutes a proper recourse. For instance, the NDP defends the position that Canada should open its borders to all asylum seekers. Meanwhile, conservatives have voiced opposition to this view, insisting that these individuals be returned to the United States. On the other hand, the liberals have remained silent as they have chosen not to reach out to the U.S. to discuss the possibility of a new agreement.
As the U.S government continues to order the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants along with its suspension of the United States Refugee Admissions Program, an increasing number of individuals are considering Canada as a prospective home.
This means that the Liberal party will soon be compelled to issue a statement on refugee policy to adjust its program to current demands.