New U.S. Agreement with Canada Would Block Asylum Seekers from Life-Saving Protection

March 24, 2023

For Immediate Release: March 24, 2023


New U.S. Agreement with Canada Would Block Asylum Seekers from Life-Saving Protection

Washington, DC–CWS today expressed concern over the Biden Administration’s new agreement with Canada that would block vulnerable people fleeing violence and persecution from seeking asylum while crossing the northern border with Canada. The agreement restricts the ability of asylum seekers to apply for protection by allowing both Canada and the United States to turn back vulnerable individuals along their shared border.

“The intention behind the sudden announcement of this deal, which was negotiated in secret, is clear: To limit the ability of some of the world’s most vulnerable people to find life-saving protection in North America,” said CWS Associate Director for Policy and Advocacy Danilo Zak. “Time and time again, the Biden Administration has taken steps to block the movement of people fleeing violence and persecution.”

This deal comes as an increasing number of asylum seekers have attempted to cross from Canada into the United States, and as a growing number of asylum seekers have crossed from the United States into Canada, particularly at a rural crossing point near Plattsburgh, New York. The new agreement effectively expands the 2002 “Safe Third Country Agreement” with Canada, which requires asylum seekers to apply for protection in the first “safe” country they travel through. The expanded policy, set to go into effect on March 25, will now include asylum seekers crossing the northern border between ports of entry. Anti-protection policies, including Title 42 and the proposed asylum ban, severely erode access to protection in the United States and fly in the face of American values and international law.

“We should not stand by while policy after policy tears apart our nation’s commitment to welcome. Given the assault on access to legal protection for the most vulnerable migrants arriving at our borders, it’s questionable whether the United States still qualifies as a ‘safe third country’,” added Zak. “We urge President Biden to strongly reconsider this deal and to work with Congress to restore access to asylum and support policies that recognize the dignity of all those arriving at our borders.”

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