Updates in US-Canada STCA – US and Canada Announce New Agreement to STOP Irregular Border Crossings
The United States and Canada announced a new agreement (an extension to a previous Safe Third Country Agreeement [STCA]) on March 20th that now the two countries can send back asylum seekers who cross their shared border at irregular points of entry. The new agreement applies to the full US-Canada border and will be in effect from Saturday 25th March 2023.
According to the previous Safe Third Country Agreement, asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first country they land in. If anyone try to claim asylum at the legal port of entry of the other country, he will be returned back. The asylum seekers were taking advantage of the term “legal port of entry”, and they were continuously crossing into Canada from the irregular crossings.
The official statement of Canadian Government says “moving forward, foreign nationals who cross anywhere along the Canada-US border will not be eligible to make an asylum claim, unless they meet an STCA exception”.
The new agreement will apply to migrants who cross the Canada US border from anywhere, as well as anyone who applies for asylum or any other form of protection in either country within 14 days of crossing the border.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about the policy change, saying that it will not stop refugees and asylum seekers from trying to cross the border and could even push them to take more dangerous ways. Around 40,000 migrants crossed into Canada in 2020, a record number, with most of them entering at Roxham Road, an irregular crossing between New York state and the province of Quebec.
What does this mean for asylum seekers in US-Canada?
The new agreement makes it more difficult for asylum seekers to reach other side of the border through unofficial entry points. Asylum seekers who cross the border at unauthorized points of entry will be refused asylum in both countries and returned to the first country they came.
Canada’s response (a new hope for asylum seekers)
To reduce fears related to the new agreement, Canada has agreed to accept an extra 15,000 migrants on a humanitarian ground from Western Hemisphere nations such as Haiti, Colombia, and Ecuador throughout the rest of the year.
This new refugee program aims to provide a secure and legal way for people seeking asylum in Canada, discourage them to cross the border at irregular points of entry.
The new US-Canada agreement shows strict policies to stop irregular border crossings by extending the Safe Third Country Agreement to the full US-Canada border. Human rights organizations criticized the decision, claiming that it may violate international law and might not stop refugees and asylum seekers from crossing the border. Canada’s response to the updated agreement is a ray of hope for asylum seekers who want to start their new lives in Canada.