Jesuit Refugee Service in Canada and the United States oppose expansion of an existing agreement between Canada and the U.S. that will now allow both countries to turn away more asylum seekers, limiting access to an individual’s legal right to seek protection.
“We must address the reasons why migrants are arriving at the Canada-U.S. border rather than punish those who are seeking to exercise their legal right to claim refugee status,” said Norbert Piché, Country Director of JRS Canada. “While we welcome the Canadian Government’s reported plan to create a new refugee program for 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere fleeing persecution and violence, it must not be made at the expense of all those who are seeking Canada’s protection by entering the country irregularly. Canada must be consistent in its efforts to welcome all who seek safety.”
Announced during a recent meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden, the new policy builds on the “2002 U.S.-Canada Agreement for Cooperation in the Examination of Refugee Status Claims from Nationals of Third Countries” and will go into effect on March 25, 2023.
The 2002 Agreement forced asylum seekers to apply for asylum in their first country of arrival resulting in asylum seekers being turned away at official Canada-U.S. border crossings. The new policy expands the 2002 Agreement to now include migrants who cross the Canada-U.S. border in between official border crossings.
“This is the latest example of the Biden Administration putting forth new restrictions to asylum that will harm those already in danger,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of JRS/USA. “We urge the U.S. to withdraw, and dismiss consideration of, any policy that creates new barriers for vulnerable asylum seekers and to implement a fair and humane asylum system, in accordance with the long-established values of our country.”